No headway in talks as NCP ups its demands, Cong says won’t budge

  • Ketaki Ghoge and Surendra Gangan, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Sep 24, 2014 16:31 IST

The ruling alliance on Tuesday made no progress in the seat-sharing talks.

On day 1, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) put forth a proposal of not just 144 seats, but also the CM’s post for 2.5 years, if the alliance came to power.

It also demanded that 10 seats be left for the newly inducted independent MLAs. Further, the NCP proposed exchange of portfolios.

According to sources, the NCP seems to be playing hardball to get more seats or is bidding for time until the saffron combine makes a decision.

While Congress campaign chief Narayan Rane confirmed the proposal, NCP leaders as well as chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and Congress state president Manikrao Thakre stayed mum.

It is learnt that the idea was turned down by the Congress, with Chavan reiterating the offer of 124-125 seats.

“It’s an unrealistic demand. During the informal talks in Delhi, it was believed that the NCP will come down to 134-130 seats. If they make such demands, the alliance is not possible,” said a senior Congress leader.

Chavan told HT, “The talks are going on and we hope to come to some conclusion in the next two days.”

Justifying the Congress’ offer, he said, “In the 2009 LS polls, Congress had won double the number of seats than the NCP, and so for Assembly they [the NCP] contested 10 less seats at 119. This time, the NCP has doubled the number of MPs than us, so we have offered them 124 seats.”

Sources in the NCP said its leadership wants to keep the option of going with another party, or to form the government, open. It is also likely to field about 30 candidates that could pose a threat to the Congress candidates.

The Congress, however, has decided not to budge from its offer. The issue of leaving seats for independent legislators could also be a stumbling block. Constituencies like Navapur, Amalner and Yavatmal are represented by a Congress candidate, while the NCP wants the seats for its newly inducted MLAs.

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