The suspense on whether the Congress and the NCP will have a seat-sharing arrangement for the October 13 Maharashtra polls is expected to end in a day or two.
“We will take a decision — yes or no — by tomorrow,” said Congress leader Vilasrao Deshmukh after meeting party president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday.
The former Maharashtra chief minister is a known votary of the party going it alone in the state and heads the election management committee. Sushilkumar Shinde, who was also present at the meeting, chairs the election campaign committee.
On Saturday, the Congress won the first round in the war of nerves. Sharad Pawar’s party acceded to its demand to contest fewer seats than the 122 it did in 2004 because delimitation has changed ground realities.
“We are willing to fight less number of seats than last time due to delimitation. We are for a fair and practical seat sharing, but are definitely not agreeable to contesting just 103 of the 288 seats,” Praful Patel, NCP leader was quoted saying.
The NCP is ready to come down to 119 but the Congress wants it to scale it down to 108.
“The chances of a seat-sharing pact still remain 50:50,” said a well-placed Congress leader. The issue, he said, was not just the number of seats but also the nature of seats.
Besides demanding a larger share, the Congress also wants to assert itself in western Maharashtra, the region considered Pawar’s stronghold but where, it believes, the Maratha leader’s hold is slipping.