If tension prevailed in saffron alliance, things were not cordial in ruling Congress-NCP combine as well.
Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar (NCP) on Thursday once again backed his party’s demand for 144 seats and said that his party would not repeat the mistake it did post 2004 polls, if it emerged as the single largest party in Maharashtra.
In 2004, NCP had emerged as the single largest party with 71 seats but gave up its claim over chief ministerial post to Congress in exchange of plump portfolios. Pawar’s statement that his party’s demand was justified along with the bid for CM post indicates that the NCP is looking to drive a hard bargain. Sources in Congress said that the seat sharing deal could be anywhere between 124 to 134 seats for the NCP.
"There is no question of a compromise as it is a practical demand. Earlier, formulas were worked out on the basis of previous election results. So according to the latest Lok Sabha poll result we deserve equal sharing. We are waiting for response from Congress and we would like to avoid a split in secular votes," said Pawar.
He added, "Congress has rejected our demand for equal seats. We are hopeful that intervention of Sharad Pawar and Sonia Gandhi will help to resolve the deadlock.’’
There has been no headway in the seat sharing talks between the allies. The last official meeting held to discuss seat sharing was held in Delhi on August 20. And, both the parties have accused each other of trying to stall the talks by not taking initiative.
However, sources in the Congress indicated that informal talks were going on and the alliance would get sealed soon. "The alliance will happen. It will be somewhere in between 124 to 134 seats for NCP. The seat sharing will get finalised in Delhi after a meeting between NCP chief and Congress party president," said a senior party functionary.
He added that both the parties were looking at seats that could be swapped to each other’s advantage. NCP chief and Gandhi were slated to meet on Thursday but it is likely that this meeting will now be held in the coming couple of days.
Even as his state leaders have been threatening to go solo, NCP chief Sharad Pawar has insisted that alliance will happen.
He has also stayed away from commenting directly on seat sharing making his state leadership and close aides like Praful Patel and Tariq Anwar do the talking. It is being said that Pawar is more keen on getting a certain winnable seats including swapping of some seats with ally, Congress more than just the numbers.