The seat-sharing talks between the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have always been a turbulent affair, and this time is no different, with state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre on Thursday offering only half the seats that the NCP has staked claim on.
Thakre said the NCP could claim right over 34 seats on the basis of its performance in the 2007 civic polls. That’s about half the number the NCP is hoping for.
“Their demand for more seats will have to be discussed before we negotiate with them again on Friday,” Thakre said, claiming 170 seats for the Congress using the 2007 yardstick. But the Congress is not being rigid, he said. Healthy talks always yield good results.”
Thakre’s comments have miffed the NCP’s senior leaders, who said he has no business discussing seats when both the party leaders have decided to continue talks on Friday.
“Thakre can say what he wants. The official meeting is on Friday and we will point out why we deserve more seats then,” said Madhukar Pichad, NCP’s state party president.
Sources in the NCP said 2007 would not be the correct benchmark, given that the party has increased its strength in the city in five years. The two parties are also squabbling over which seats should be allocated to whom as both want the same electoral wards.
NCP spokesperson Madan Bafana said: “We have been nice to each other and we expect Friday’s meeting to end the impasse.” While there has been consensus on alliances in corporations in Nashik, Nagpur and Amravati, the NCP’s insistence on going solo in Pimpri-Chinchwad and Pune has raised the Congress’ hackles.
“The NCP is cherry-picking places for alliance. They want, but they won’t give a damn where they are stronger than us,” said ex-state Congress president Ranjit Deshmukh from Nagpur. An NCP leader said the Congress is insecure after the NCP’s performance in the recent civic council polls.