Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday hinted that his party would take a flexible stand in seat- sharing talks with the Congress for the coming assembly elections.
“We will not make it an issue in the larger interest [of the alliance] if the NCP gets a few seats less than 144,” Pawar told the media in Pune.
For the past few weeks, there was tension between the two allies in the ruling alliance over sharing the 288 assembly seats. NCP leaders, especially deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, insisted his party wouldn’t settle for anything fewer than half the seats — which is 144.
The Congress had refused the demand, with its state leaders saying that they would be willing to spare about 10 more seats for the NCP. In 2009, the Congress contested 174 seats while the NCP fielded candidates from 114 seats.
The relations between the two allies turned bitter when NCP fielded its state president Sunil Tatkare for by-elections to t he l e gisl ative council even after the Congress decided to field its candidate for the same.
The by-election was due as Sena legislator Vinayak Raut quit from the upper house after getting elected to the Lok Sabha from Ratnagiri-Sindhdurg constituency.
However, things got better after conversations between Pawar and the Congress high command earlier this week.
Congress offered to withdraw its candidate for the byelection after Pawar reportedly promised his party won’t take an adamant stand during assembly seat-sharing talks. Pawar’s statement on Saturday is an indication of the same.
Pawar also said that a meeting of senior NCP and Congress leaders will be held in New Delhi on August 19 where all the issues related to seat-sharing will be discussed.
Pawar, Praful Patel, Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare from NCP, and AK Anthony and Ahmed Patel among other Congress leaders, will attend the meeting.