The mystery over Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YSR Reddy’s whereabouts — he has been missing since Wednesday morning, his chopper believed to have made an emergency landing in Chittoor — has stalled pre-poll alliance talks between the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party.
“Senior leaders in New Delhi are too shocked by the unfortunate incident to discuss any poll politics,” said a Maharashtra Congress general secretary, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to talk to the press. “The talks will resume in a day or two.”
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had sanctioned an alliance on Tuesday, but there still remains the battle over the number of seats each party will contest.
After its strong showing in the general election earlier this year, the Congress is insisting the NCP hand over more seats, while the latter wants to stick to the 2004 formula — 124 seats for the NCP and 164 for the Congress.
Sources within the Congress said the party would not settle for less than 190 seats.
“In 2004, we gave the NCP 16 more seats in areas where our candidates had finished second in the previous election,” said a senior Congress minister who did not wish to be named. “Back then, they said they had a better chance of winning in these areas and we saw reason. Now, we insist they do the same.”
Former chief minister and Union Heavy Industries Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, meanwhile, continued to pressurise the NCP, reiterating in Bangalore on Tuesday that the Congress should contest the state election on its own.