What Congress is getting now is a strong dose of Sharad Pawar brand of politics.
It ridiculed the NCP's demand that both parties should contest 24 seats each in the parliamentary elections. Maharashtra has 48 seats. Congress did not want to change the ratio of 2004 elections when it contested 26 and gave 21 to the NCP. Pawar has now indicated that other parties including Shiv Sena could be NCP’s friends.
The announcement for Loksabha polls is expected in a few days and political parties have begun their permutations and combinations in a bid to win maximum seats. So, it is little surprising that the regional parties like the NCP and the Sena would arm-twist their national allies—Congress and BJP—to concede more seats. Their stance is in the line with growing aspirations of smaller parties as national parties are losing ground.
But then, in case of Pawar, the tactics are not limited to getting a few more seats.
The veteran of alliances is also aiming for a bigger role at national level.
“Pawar wants to lead a conglomeration of regional parties. If Congress is not in a position to form the next government, such a conglomeration might be able to play a bigger role in the post-poll scenario,”says political analyst B.Venkatesh Kumar.
The Sena, on the other hand, sees its alliance partner BJP as a liability and would prefer NCP as poll partner. For Sena Chief Balasaheb Thackeray, Pawar’s party could be a better ally for his son Uddhav in the long run.
Is it just arm-twisting for a few more seats or indication of the things to come? Answers will come in next two months.