The seat-sharing talks between the ruling alliance seem to be going nowhere with both parties on Wednesday claiming the other was playing truant. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar is expected to meet with Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on Thursday to take the issue forward.
Pawar had convened an urgent meeting of the NCP core committee on Wednesday at its Mumbai headquarters to discuss the party’s next move. Party leaders claimed they have not received any response from its ally Congress over the seat-sharing formula.
The Congress, however, claimed the NCP was sending confusing signals with some leaders saying they would not settle for anything below 144 seats (on par with the Congress), while others were claiming the party would compromise on its earlier demand.
“There was no meeting scheduled between us on Wednesday because there is no response from the Congress. We have not taken a decision yet about the further course of action,” said Praful Patel.
The Congress top brass had a meeting in Delhi to finalise the first list of candidates, which is expected to be formally cleared by Gandhi and then released on Friday. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, however, was in Aurangabad to attend a state function. “We are willing to contest the polls on our own if it comes to that. At this stage, the Congress is the only party capable of going solo. But, we expect the issue will be resolved in two to three days,’’ said Chavan. A senior Congress state leader said there was pressure from party cadre to fight the elections solo, but the party was unlikely to get a benefit from this.
“The aim of both the parties is to keep communal forces at bay. The by-poll results (that went against the BJP) have also given a clear message to our ally. We are willing to compromise on a few seats in order to maintain the alliance. The issue will get resolved in a few days,’’ said party spokesperson Anant Gadgil.
The NCP core committee, headed by Pawar and comprising Patel, Ajit Pawar, state chief of the party Sunil Tatkare, is scheduled to meet over the next three days for brainstorming sessions. It is likely that Pawar will negotiate a swap of certain seats. The allies are also waiting to see how the talks between the saffron combine pan out before they take a final call.