The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) walked away with honours in the first round of Lok Sabha seat-sharing talks with the Congress on Monday.
Though the NCP scaled down its demand for extra seats in Maharashtra, it kept the Congress on leash, insisting that it will not accept anything less than an equal number of 48 segments that go to the polls this year.
NCP cited its growing elective merit to demand 26 out of 48 seats. This was later cut down by two.
The NCP’s stance put its ally on the back foot. The Congress leadership said it would forward the demand for the high command’s approval.
In 2004, the NCP and its associates had won 11 segments of the 21 it contested, while Congress and its associates got 12 of 27. Post-Lok Sabha polls, the allies got back to power in the state. However, the NCP fared better than the Congress. Later, it toppled the Congress at many places in local self-government elections where the two had no pact. The delimitation exercise has significantly changed the priorities of both parties.
State Congress President Manikrao Thakare said his party wanted to maintain the 2004 formula. “But since NCP insists on an equal share, we will ask the high command to resolve the issue.”
“Over the years, NCP’s elective potential has increased. We want seats that we are confident of winning hands down,” said State NCP President R.R. Patil.
Besides Thakare, other Congress leaders like former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Gurudas Kamat and Kripashankar Singh attended the talks. State NCP chief had Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and Padamsinh Patil by his side. The talks will resume once the number formula is finalised.