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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Ajit okay with 60 seats, but wants 2 cabinet berths

Srinand Jha and Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 19, 2011
First Published: 00:16 IST(19/11/2011) | Last Updated: 00:19 IST(19/11/2011)

Wary of the possibility of Chaudhary Ajit Singh drifting to the BJP, the Congress on Friday swung into action to stitch up a poll tie-up with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).

Ahead of Saturday's crucial meeting of the Congress Central Election Committee, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh is expected to brief party president Sonia Gandhi on the outcome of his talks with the RLD chief in the last two months.

"The agreement is likely to be firmed up within the next few days", a senior Congress functionary said.

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"Talks are moving in a positive direction", Ajit Singh said.

The seat sharing arrangement was discussed at Thursday night's meeting between the Congress general secretary and the RLD chief, when Ajit Singh scaled down his demand by agreeing that his party would contest around 60 seats as part of the proposed poll pact.

However, the RLD supremo remained adamant on his demand for an important cabinet portfolio for himself and Minister of State rank for son Jayant Chaudhary.

Urgency about sealing the proposed pact has been introduced on account of reports that the RLD had opened backdoor negotiations with the BJP, even as Digvijaya Singh is scheduled to be out of the country for about 10 days from Saturday.

The Congress and RLD are both keen on a pre-poll arrangement, but both sides have been playing hard ball over the past two months.

The RLD chief had initially demanded a share of around 100 assembly seats and is understood to have rejected the cabinet berth offered by the Congress, as the portfolio offered was 'light'.

Meanwhile, the Congress has been weighing options of going it alone.


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