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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Maharashtra Congress asks Rahul to help in seat-sharing talks with NCP

Congress and NCP have been engaged in a tussle over the Ahmednagar and Aurangabad seats for the Lok Sabha elections.

mumbai Updated: Feb 12, 2019 00:07 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Congress President Rahul Gandhi
Congress President Rahul Gandhi (Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)

The Maharashtra unit of the Congress has asked party president Rahul Gandhi to intervene and resolve the ongoing seat-sharing feud with long-time ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The parties have been engaged in a tussle over the Ahmednagar and Aurangabad seats for the Lok Sabha elections.

While Congress has been demanding Ahmednagar for Dr Sujay Vikhe Patil, son of leader of opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, the NCP wants Aurangabad constituency, but won’t concede the Ahmednagar seat. “During a meeting with Rahul Gandhi on Saturday, state unit chief Ashok Chavan requested him to resolve the differences by talking to NCP chief Sharad Pawar,” said a senior Congress leader, on condition of anonymity.

“Chavan told Gandhi that both parties have amicably admitted to sharing all other seats, but for Ahmednagar and Aurangabad constituencies. We do not see any reason to exchange Aurangabad, as NCP does not have a voter base there.”

Congress, while staking claim to Ahmednagar, have raised the issue of two consecutive defeats by NCP candidates there. The NCP, on the other hand, has contended that Congress has not been able to win Aurangabad in the past three elections.

“If the Ahmednagar seat is conceded to Congress, it will not be without an exchange for another seat, if not Aurangabad. That could be Nandurbar, Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg,” said an NCP leader, who did not wish to be named.

While political rivalry between the Vikhe Patils and Pawars goes back decades, Sujay met Rohit Pawar, Sharad Pawar’s grandnephew, on Sunday, indicating that efforts are on to mend bridges between the families.

The parties are likely to go in for a 25:23 seat-sharing formula, and have arrived at a consensus for 46 seats.

Congress and NCP had contested on 26 and 22 seats, respectively, in 2014, although later, NCP had conceded one seat to Congress as it did not have a suitable candidate.

After a series of meetings between state-level leaders last month, the parties had arrived at a consensus for 40 seats. NCP’s Praful Patel and Mallikarjun Kharge from Congress were asked to resolve the dispute over other seats, after a brief meeting between Pawar and Gandhi last month.

Meetings between Patel and Kharge, and later, between Patel and Chavan led to the resolution of dispute over few more seats. Although NCP has been demanding Pune, Nandurbar, Yavatmal and Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg by conceding two more seats, Congress has turned down the proposal.

Meanwhile, both parties have said they would share two seats each from their respective quotas with the smaller allies.

The NCP is likely to concede one seat (Hatkanangale in Kolhapur) for farmers’ leader Raju Shetti; and one (Dindori in Nashik) for Communist Party of India (CPI). Congress, too, is expected to leave Palghar for legislator Hitendra Thakur’s Bahujan Vikas Aghadi; and either Akola or Solapur for Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar.

First Published: Feb 12, 2019 00:07 IST