Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has adopted a soft stand on the alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in western Maharashtra.
“We are not considering having any friendly contest with the Nationalist Congress Party, our alliance partner,” said Chavan, speaking of western Maharashtra, which is believed to be the stronghold of Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar.
Chavan, who was in the region for the first time after taking over as chief minister, was attending a day-long party convention here on Tuesday. Senior leaders Revenue Minister Patangrao Kadam, Sangli Lok Sabha member Pratik Patil and Minister for Agricultural Marketing Madan Patil, were present at the convention.
Several party leaders insisted that the Congress contest elections in western Maharashtra where the NCP’s influence had made the party almost non-existential.
While suggesting that the party continue its alliance with the NCP, the leaders suggested that the Congress also contest the polls in western Maharashtra on its own.
In political circles, such a wrestle is referred to as a ‘friendly contest’.
Chavan was, however, emphatic in ruling out such a possibility.
It may be noted that his statement comes at a time when the NCP has issued an ultimatum to the Congress over seat-sharing for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
While the NCP wants to contest 24 of 48 seats in Maharashtra, the Congress is willing to concede no more than 21. That was exactly the number of seats that the NCP had contested in alliance with the Congress during the elections held in 2004.
“The talks about an alliance between the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party
is nothing but media hype,” said Chavan.
There are nine Lok Sabha seats in western Maharashtra, of which the NCP holds five, the Congress holds two and the Shiv Sena BJP each have one seat.
The party has two members of Parliament in the entire region — Suresh Kalmadi (Pune) and Pratik Patil (Sangli).