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No Cong-NCP alliance talk today

Nationalist Congress Party chief and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said he was not meeting any Congress leader today and tomorrow to discuss seat-sharing for Maharashtra elections even as Congress chief Sonia Gandhi flew off to the state to start her campaigning.

delhi Updated: Sep 14, 2009 17:28 IST

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Monday said he was not meeting any Congress leader on Monday and on Tuesday to discuss seat-sharing for Maharashtra elections even as Congress chief Sonia Gandhi flew off to the state to start her campaigning.

"I am not scheduled to meet anybody (Congress leader) today or tomorrow knowing fully well about my commitments," Pawar told reporters when asked about seat-sharing talks in Maharashtra.

Pawar said he was "too busy" with his work and Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other Congress leaders were also now in Mumbai.

Gandhi reached the state capital Mumbai on Monday to launch the party's election campaign.

The Congress-NCP alliance is ruling Maharashtra, which goes to poll on Oct 13. The two parties are in talks to finalise seat-sharing.

In the 2004 assembly polls, the Congress contested 157 of the 288 seats and the NCP fought for 127 seats, leaving the rest to their allies. The NCP won 71 seats while the Congress got 69 seats.

In the April-May Lok Sabha elections, the Congress contested 25 of the 48 seats in the state and won 17, while the NCP got only eight of the 21 seats it contested.

It is on the basis of its performance in the general elections this year that the Congress plans to stake claim to almost 170 seats this time, say party sources.

"After the delimitation (of constituencies) and seeing the number of seats that we have in the Lok Sabha, we will stake claim to at least a dozen more seats than those we contested the last time," a Congress leader involved with the party's election preparations in the state told IANS.

Pawar told NDTV news channel last week that he had appealed to the Congress to take a "pragmatic decision" for the alliance.

"We are expecting (the) Congress party to convey their thinking... they have to take a pragmatic step," he said.