CONG-NCP to offer few seats for smaller allies
MUMBAI: After being reduced to a single-digit tally in the 2014 Lok Sabha (LS) polls, former ruling allies Congress-ncp are looking at various seat sharing permutations to ensure maximum success in the polls next year. This includes giving LS seats to smaller allies in a bid to ensure greater support for them and a stronger opposition against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
At a seat-sharing discussion on Friday late evening, Congress and NCP leaders also spoke on the seats that could be kept aside for allies from each other’s quota. The parties plan to leave the Hatkangale seat in western Maharashtra for sitting MP and farmers’ leader Raju Shetti of the Swabhimani Shetkari Paksha. The allies are also likely to leave the Dindori seat in north Maharashtra for the Communist Party of India (CPI).
Besides this, the parties may consider giving one LS seat in Mumbai to Samajwadi Party to bring it in the grand alliance against the BJP. The NCP is also planning to give the Palghar Lok Sabha seat to local strongman Hitendra Thakur’s party Bahujan Vikas Aghadi.
With this, the parties hope to enlist the larger support of the tribal community, Muslims and peasants in the polls. Getting more allies on board is crucial given that Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar has refused to get on board with Congress-ncp and instead has tied up with the All India Majlis e Ittehad ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) to float a third front in Maharashtra.
“Even if we get Peasants and Workers Party, Janata Dal constituents, Samajwadi Party, Communist Parties, Shetkari Paksha it can be a formidable alliance against BJP. CPI has asked for Dindori seat and we will give it to them. Similarly, Shetti is sitting MP so he gets the Hatkangale seat,” said a senior NCP leader.
Both the parties plan to wrap their seat-sharing talks by this month end to begin an early cam-
paign for the LS. “Winnability is the biggest criteria. It’s not about a specific number or a 50:50 sharing of seats between the two parties. We will keep some seats aside for our other allies because we are keen on a larger anti-bjp coalition,” said Jayant Patil, state president of NCP.
During the discussions, the Congress made a bid for Yavatmal (Vidarbha), Raver (north Maharashtra) and Kolhapur (western Maharashtra) — LS seats that are from the NCP quota. The NCP asked for Aurangabad and Pune LS seats that are currently with the Congress quota.
Congress had won only two seats while NCP had won four seats in the 2014 general polls, while the SENA-BJP alliance won 42 seats (including the Hatkangale seat won by Shetti, a former ally of BJP-SENA).