IT’S 50:50 or nothing.That was NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s message at the pre-poll party convention in Nashik on Sunday.
The Nationalist Congress Party passed a resolution at the meet, saying it will tie up with the Congress only if it concedes 24 of the 48 Maharashtra Lok Sabha seats.
Seat-sharing talks between the allies have reached a deadlock, with the Congress willing to give up only 21 seats for its junior ally — the same number as in 2004.
If the Congress does not agree to a 50:50 seat-sharing formula, the NCP will be forced to “rethink” the alliance, Pawar told reporters.
So who would the NCP leave the Congress for?
One option — albeit a rather unlikely one — is the Shiv Sena, whom Pawar has been cosying up to as the seat-sharing tussle intensified.
“This is a pressure tactic. It is also a means of asserting political independence and boosting the morale of the cadre before the polls,” said Surendra Jondhale, professor with the University of Mumbai’s Political Science Department. “But in the end, it’s unlikely that the NCP will ally with the Sena, especially given Pawar’s prime ministerial aspirations.”
Pawar is also keen that the Congress declare a national-level pre-poll alliance with all its allies in the United Progressive Alliance at the Centre, to ensure the success of the secular front.
The Congress has previously rejected this suggestion.
“If the Congress goes ahead with its decision to not have an alliance [in all the states], we will have to take separate routes in states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Orissa and the north-east,” he said.
He added that the NCP had spoken to various parties already, including Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK and N. Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP), but no final decision had been taken.
The party is keen on contesting 20 Parliamentary seats outside Maharashtra.