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Cong must have national level poll alliance with allies: Pawar

Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar today toughened the party's stance to get a 50 pc share of seats in Maharashtra in the general elections and pressed UPA's lead party to go for a national pre-poll alliance with all its allies saying it may have to look for "an alternative" otherwise.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2009 22:14 IST
PTI
Hindustantimes

Mounting pressure on the Congress, NCP chief Sharad Pawar today toughened the party's stance to get a 50 per cent share of seats in Maharashtra in the general elections and pressed UPA's lead party to go for a national pre-poll alliance with all its allies saying it may have to look for "an alternative" otherwise.

"We want to have an alliance with the Congress at national level. And it will benefit everyone I think. But if it doesn't happen we will think for an alternative," said Pawar while asking the Congress to rethink its decision in disfavouring national level alliance with the UPA allies.

Facing strident demands from within his party that the NCP must insist on getting 24 of the 48 seats at stake, Pawar indicated his party may have a rethink if the Congress did not relent though he did not say in as many words. "For the present we are with the United Progressive Alliance," he said in the backdrop of reports of NCP cosying up to Shiv Sena.

Addressing a state level convention of the NCP and talking to reporters here, Pawar also said his party had seat-sharing talks with Chandrababu Naidu(TDP) and Jayalalitha (AIADMK) but "no final decision has been taken." Looking beyond Maharashtra, Pawar said NCP wants to put candidates for around 20 Lok Sabha seats outside the state.

Several NCP functionaries told Pawar at closed-door sessions that the party should insist on contesting at least 24 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra if alliance with Congress is to continue, NCP Maharashtra unit spokesperson Madan Bafna told PTI. Deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal and Tariq Anwar is reported to be among them.

Replying to a query over NCP, part of ruling coalition with Congress in Maharashtra, insisting on sharing the chief ministerial chair for half the term, Pawar said "Congress has shown us the way." He cited the example of power sharing formula adopted by Congress in Jammu and Kashmir which paved the way for Ghulam Nabi Azad becoming chief minister.

On Congress's pre-poll strategy, Pawar said "We hope that Congress rethinks the decision of not having pact with UPA allies at national level. Our worry is that if we are forced to go in for local level adjustments, we will have to include those who are opposed to Congress."

"Our desire is to have a national alliance with Congress. I hope Congress takes a decision on the issue at least a week before last date for filing nominations," Pawar said.

Asked if he was giving a deadline to Congress, Pawar said "we belong to a small party. How can we give an ultimatum to a big party like Congress".

Stating that there will be confusion among people if the UPA partners did not face elections together, Pawar said "if we make adjustments at local level, many times we will have to take with us those opposed to Congress."

"If Congress goes ahead with its decision, we will have to take separate route in separate states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Orissa and the North-East," Pawar said.

Asked what he thought was the reason for Congress to decide on not having a tie-up with UPA partners at national level, Pawar said "every party thinks of how to build their own base...And they have every right to do so."