NCP tells Cong to de­cide on seat-share

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - Nation - Faisal Ma­lik faisal.ma­lik@htlive.com

In a step ahead in the plan for a pre-poll al­liance, Na­tion­al­ist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has asked Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi to de­cide on the shar­ing of seats by the end of the month. Pawar believes this will help the par­ties start their joint cam­paign in Ma­ha­rash­tra with full vigour.

While the two par­ties de­cided to come to­gether to give a tough fight to the rul­ing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), they are also try­ing to get small par­ties on board for a mega al­liance.

The NCP is re­port­edly keen on get­ting equal num­ber of seats as the Congress for the Lok Sabha elec­tions. Pawar con­veyed this mes­sage to the Congress pres­i­dent in a meet­ing in Au­gust, af­ter which lead­ers from both the par­ties have been meet­ing to work out a for­mula that is ac­cept­able to all. The NCP states their de­mand is based on the equal strength that both the par­ties share in the state cur­rently.

“On Thurs­day, Pawar and Gandhi met in New Delhi to dis­cuss is­sues re­lated to al­liance. In the meet, Pawar sug­gested Gandhi de­cide the seat-shar­ing for­mula by this month-end. This will en­able both the par­ties to kick off a joint cam­paign for all Lok Sabha con­stituen­cies early,” said a se­nior NCP leader, close to Pawar.

In 2014 too, the old al­lies had come to­gether for the polls. The Congress took 26 seats, while NCP con­tested 22 seats.

De­spite that, the Congress could win only two seats, while the NCP man­aged a vic­tory on four seats. In the state As­sem­bly, the Congress and NCP have 42 and 41 MLAs, re­spec­tively.

Pawar said that each con­stituency com­prises around 2,000 vil­lages and can­di­dates need enough time for cam­paign­ing, said the leader. Se­nior Congress lead­ers Ashok Gehlot, Mal­likar­jun Kharge and se­nior NCP leader Pra­ful Pa­tel were also present at the meet.The de­vel­op­ments of the Gandhi-Pawar meet­ing were dis­cussed in the ex­tended core com­mit­tee of the NCP in Mum­bai on Fri­day.

Later, the state lead­ers of the two par­ties had a sep­a­rate meet­ing in the evening.

Be­sides state Congress chief Ashok Cha­van, leader of op­po­si­tion Rad­hakr­ishna Vikhe-Patil, for­mer chief min­is­ter Prithvi­raj Cha­van, Sharad Ran­pise from Congress; and NCP’s Jayant Patil, Ajit Pawar, Dilip Valse Patil and Ch­ha­gan Bhu­jbal were present at the meet­ing. “We held pri­mary talks about the can­di­dates and con­stituency in the meet­ing,” said Cha­van.

State NCP chief Jayant Patil said winnabil­ity will be a ma­jor cri­te­rion for seat-shar­ing. “We never de­manded 50% seats. Win­ning max­i­mum seats is im­por­tant and the shar­ing of the seats will be based on the win­ning prospects,” he said.

MUM­BAI:

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