Cong-NCP talks on hold, wait for saffron combine’s decision

  • Ketaki Ghoge, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Sep 21, 2014 22:32 IST

The seat-sharing talks between the Congress and the NCP camps are not going well either. The Congress on Sunday ignored the 24-hour ultimatum issued by its ally through senior leader Praful Patel to better its offer of 124 seats.

Leaders admit that a decision on the Congress-NCP alliance will come after the outcome of the saffron combine is announced.

Indicating that political equations could be changing in the state, NCP chief Sharad Pawar has called for a core committee meeting in Mumbai on Monday.

The much-speculated meeting between Pawar and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday didn’t take place with both camps wary of taking the first step to discuss the matter.

“We are still waiting for the Congress to respond to us. We have rejected their offer,” said Nawab Malik, NCP spokesperson.

Even as the NCP goes into a huddle, the Congress is likely to release its first list of candidates on Monday.

“We suspect that Pawar has some sort of understanding with the BJP or Sena. We have realised that we may have to go solo, and it’s not a bad option. We have given them more seats [from 114 in 2009 polls to 124]. We won’t get pushed into the corner,” said a senior Congress leader, requesting anonymity.

Senior NCP leaders said the fate of the alliance rested largely on the future of the saffron combine.

“If the saffron alliance breaks, then we, too, will contest separately. But, currently the seat-sharing talks have been limited to top leaders – NCP chief, Praful Patel and Ajit Pawar,” said a senior NCP leader.

Both parties have informally discussed and interviewed candidates for all 288 Assembly seats.

Ajit has even thrown in his hat for the chief minister’s post, refusing to accept Prithviraj Chavan as the claimant of the top job on behalf of the alliance.

“We have been in an alliance for the past 15 years to keep the communal forces at bay. We are keen on staying together, but there is no logic in the NCP’s demand for 144 seats. The by-polls indicate that the Modi wave is receding.

We are willing to wait for another five days for the NCP to approach us,” said Anant Gadgil, Congress spokesperson.

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