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Relationship issues for Cong

On Sunday, Congress president Sonia Gandhi met with leaders of the Samajwadi Party to resolve a deadlock over sharing of Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh. However, her party was faced with a similar deadlock elsewhere.

delhi Updated: Mar 02, 2009 01:11 IST
HT Correspondents

On Sunday, Congress president Sonia Gandhi met with leaders of the Samajwadi Party to resolve a deadlock over sharing of Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh. However, her party was faced with a similar deadlock elsewhere.

The Nationalist Congress Party has said it will look for new friends if the Congress, its ally of 10 years, fails to meet its demands. NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday asked the Congress to leave half of Maharashtra’s 48 Lok Sabha seats for his party. He also wanted the chief ministership of the state to rotate between an NCP and a Congress nominee.

Pawar said he hoped the Congress would reconsider its decision to not have a national pre-poll alliance with its UPA partners.

If the Congress did not oblige, he warned the NCP would look for other options. His remarks came in the backdrop of reports of the NCP cosying up to the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. Pawar openly talked about his seat-sharing talks with Chandrababu Naidu (TDP) and Jayalalitha (AIADMK) and added “no final decision has been taken”.

“Our worry is that if we are forced to go in for local level adjustments, we will have to include those who are opposed to Congress,” Pawar said, even as his supporters pitched for him as a prime ministerial candidate.

Besides the 24 seats in Maharashtra, the NCP is keen to field around 20 candidates in other parts of the country, including Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Orissa and the North-East.

The Congress may be reluctant to consider Pawar’s demands, but it refused to join issue with him publicly.

“The Congress believes in holding discussions with allies in meetings and not through the media. We’ve already had one round of constructive talks. I hope the final outcome will be positive,’’ said spokesperson Mohan Prakash, who assists AICC general secretary A.K. Antony in overseeing the party’s affairs in Maharashtra.

There was no clear outcome to the Sonia-Mulayam talks on Sunday. The SP leadership refused to interact with

the media, but unconfirmed reports said the two had reached an agreement on 18 seats.

Though the two sides began their seat-sharing talks more than six months back, they appeared to hit a dead end with the Congress seeking 25 seats and the SP unwilling to concede more than 21, including the six being claimed by both sides and on which they could have “friendly contests”.

Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress on Sunday put the ball into the Congress court for forging an alliance in West Bengal. "If they (Congress) want to talk, they can talk. It depends on them. From our side we have no problem," Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee told reporters on the day her party defeated the CPM candidate in the Bishnupur (West) assembly by-poll. The Congress had withdrawn its candidate from the elections.