Congress-NCP talks for Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra enters final lap
Top brass of both parties meet in Delhi, decide to resolve conflict in a week’s time; allies engaged in a tussle over Ahmednagar, Aurangabad seatsmumbai Updated: Feb 14, 2019 08:28 IST
The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are yet to arrive at a consensus over a couple of seats, but senior leaders from the parties have decided to seal the alliance for the upcoming polls in a week’s time. The formal announcement is likely to be done jointly after the top brass receives feedback from the state units of the parties.
The parties have been engaged in a tussle over the Ahmednagar, Aurangabad and a few other seats for the Lok Sabha elections.
On Wednesday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, All-India Congress Committee general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra Mallikarjun Kharge and general secretary KC Venugopal called on NCP chief Sharad Pawar in the presence of his MPs Praful Patel and Supriya Sule in New Delhi. The leaders, during the meeting, reportedly decided to take a call on the seats under dispute by next week, before making a formal announcement.
“Besides Ahmednagar and Aurangabad, there may be differences on one or two more seats, but it all depends on the decision over the exchange of Ahmednagar seat,” said a Congress leader. “Owing to an unreasonable demand of seats by Prakash Ambedkar’s Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh and Raju Shetti’s Swabhimani Paksh, we have not been able to take a call on the alliance. Efforts are still on to get them on board.”
While Ambedkar has been demanding 12 seats, Shetti wants six seats.
The NCP is willing to concede the Ahmednagar seat, said a leader, but only in exchange of a seat that Congress has previously contested on. “We are also batting for at least two more additional seats to take the total to 23 from last time’s 21 seats,” said the leader, adding that Ajit Pawar’s meeting with Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray was part of the last-minute negotiations with smaller parties.
Congress has been demanding Ahmednagar for Dr Sujay Vikhe Patil, son of leader of opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil. “We have meetings of steering committees of respective states between February 18 and 22. The party leadership is expected to formally announce the alliance by then,” said a Congress leader. “The Maharashtra Congress has requested for a joint rally of Rahul Gandhi and Sharad Pawar before the code of conduct sets in. The rally will be held in Mumbai in the last week of February or the first week of March.”
First Published: Feb 14, 2019 00:36 IST