Congress-NCP deadlock on seat sharing continues

Congress-NCP deadlock on seat sharing continuesNEW DELHI: Toughening its stand on seat sharing in Maharashtra, Congress today held discussions on the prospect of contesting all the 288 Assembly segments in the state alone but made it clear that it will take a decision only after NCP makes its stand known on a tie-up.

“We have held discussion on all seats,” said Madhusudan Mistry, AICC general secretary in-charge of the Central Election Committee after a meeting of the top election body chaired by party President Sonia Gandhi discussed the issue in detail here.

Mistry, however, parried questions on an alliance with the NCP, which has so far not budged from its demand of 144 of the 288 seats in Maharashtra Assembly on a 50:50 formulae.

“Chief Minister, PCC President, the General Secretary in-charge and the high command will sit together and decide what has to be done with the alliance. I have no idea,” he said when pressed on whether the Congress-NCP alliance will continue or not.

Keeping the suspense over the tie up, he said, “Ask me about seats and not alliance”.

To a question on how many names have been finalized and when can the first list be issued, he merely said, “We will tell you.”

Sources in the party, however, said no list is likely to be announced and the party would wait for the Core Committee meeting of the NCP in Maharashtra.

While NCP Vice President Praful Patel had yesterday said that his party stood by its original demand for 144 Assembly seats and its core committee in Mumbai will take a final call, Maharashtra Congress President Manikrao Thakre had maintained that Congress was willing to give its ally a few seats but if it remains “inclined” towards a particular number then things “will not work out”.

However, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi today expressed confidence that the two parties will have an alliance.

“I certainly do not think that it will be a four- cornered contest. At the best it will be three-cornered because we are going to have an alliance,” he said replying to questions.

State Congress leaders yesterday held a meeting at the residence of AICC’s Screening Committee Chairman for Maharashtra Mallikarjun Kharge here. Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, meanwhile, said that while the party is finalizing the deliberations on pending seats, “discussions with NCP are going on at a different level”.

He was replying to a question as to whether the fact that Congress has held discussions on all seats in Maharashtra is any indication that the alliance between the two parties is no longer workable.

“We are finalizing our candidates and that exercise has been going on with the Central Election Committee. We are again meeting the leadership. We are going to meet the Congress President and the General Secretary in-Charge to finalize the seats which are pending,” he said.

To a question about Congress-NCP ties, he said, “discussions with NCP are going on a separate platform”.

“We are completing our seat selection while talks with NCP are going on at a different level. We are not waiting for the (meeting of) NCP. Discussions with NCP are going on,” Chavan added.

He was speaking to reporters after the CEC meeting and before the second round of consultations of state leaders with party President Sonia Gandhi and AICC general secretary in- charge for the state, Mohan Prakash, over the Maharashtra issue.

Sources said that Congress needs to discuss finer points related to some 20-odd seats now.–PTI

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