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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

Congress says no to 50-50 seat sharing with NCP for Maharashtra Lok Sabha polls

Congress to hold assessment meeting with aspirants next week

mumbai Updated: Nov 08, 2018 21:32 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan and NCP chief Sharad Pawar .
Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan and NCP chief Sharad Pawar .(HT File)

The Congress has reiterated its stand of not conceding equal number of seats to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in the Lok Sabha elections. Moreover, to maintain pressure on its old ally, the party has decided to hold assessment meetings with aspirants in all 48 Lok Sabha constituencies next week.

The Congress and NCP, which had snapped 15-year-old ties ahead of the 2014 Assembly elections, had seat-sharing talks over the last one month. Although it has not arrived at any conclusion, both the parties have been vying for exchange of seats, while the NCP has been demanding equal number of seats for 48 constituencies. In the previous elections, the Congress had contested 27 seats, although it could win only two, while the NCP won four seats after contesting 21. The NCP has been banking on its strength of four MPs, two more than the Congress’s while raising the demand for more seats.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar during his meeting with Congress president Rahul Gandhi last month too had urged for equal distribution of seats. State leaders have been opposing the NCP’s “unreasonable” demand. “Although the NCP has 4 sitting MPs, two are on the verge of leaving the party. The party has no candidates in most of the constituencies it is eyeing,” said a Congress leader. The leader said as most smaller parties in the grand alliance are to be accommodated by the Congress, conceding 50% seats was not possible.

Meanwhile, the Congress has convened meetings on November 15, 16 and 17 for scrutiny of potential candidates. The panel of senior leaders headed by All India Congress Committee general secretary and Maharashtra incharge Mallikarjun Kharge will interview potential candidates from 48 constituencies. The panel will also judge the electoral position of the party in these constituencies.

NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “The talks between two parties have not been finalised yet though Pawarsaheb had demanded for 50% seats during his meeting with Rahulji.”

Senior Congress leader and former state chief Manikrao Thakre said, “There is no reason to concede 50% seats to NCP as our strength is intact in the state. The reports about the agreement over 50:50 formula are just rumours.”

According to senior NCP leaders, the final decision is unlikely without a decision over inclusion of Prakash Ambedkar-led Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh. Both the parties still expect Ambedkar to join the grand alliance. Ambedkar has already announced an alliance with AIMIM. The grand alliance will have other smaller parties, including Raju Shetti-led Swabhimani Paksha, Hitendra Thakur-led Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, Peasants and Workers Party and left parties among others.