The seat-sharing agreement between the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Gujarat has virtually collapsed as the Congress has fielded candidates from four seats that were earlier given to the NCP.
The NCP was given nine -Umreth, Gondal, Devgadh Baria, Kutiyana, Limbayat, Akota, Visnagar, Vav and Shahera - out of the 182 assembly seats. But on Friday, the last day of filing nomination papers, the Congress fielded its candidates from Vav, Akota, Shahera and Limbayat while the NCP also fielded candidates from Bapunagar, Babasinor and Nikol. Interestingly, the nomination form of Nilesh Patel, the NCP candidate from Akota was rejected as the authorised person had not signed the party mandate.
"We had sensed that there was an understanding between the BJP and NCP in Akota, and had an inkling about the planned rejection of the form. Therefore, we fielded our candidate as we did not want a walkover for BJP's Saurabh Patel," said a Congress leader in Vadodara.
Another Congress leader alleged the NCP and Modi had some "setting under which the NCP had demanded those seats where the Congress was strong". "We apprehend that the BJP had asked the NCP to demand those seats where it (the BJP) was weak so they could win without having to fight the Congress," he said, adding, out of the nine seats given to the NCP, the Congress would have won at least five.
The NCP has, however, accused the Congress of betraying the pact.