NCP sets 'strict conditions' before Congress

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Nashik, Mar 1 (ANI): Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday reportedly laid down strict conditions before its United Progressive Alliance (UPA) ally Congress.

Pawar has toughened the party's stance to get a 50 percent share of seats in Maharashtra in General elections and pressed UPA's lead party to go for a national pre-poll alliance with its allies, saying it may have to look for 'an alternative' otherwise.

"As a big party, the Congress should come out with the pre-poll alliance and alliance partners should get a chance to contest from constituencies in which they are strong," he said.

Facing strident demands from within his party that the NCP must insist on getting 24 of the 48 seats at stake, Pawar indicated his party may have a rethink if the Congress did not relent though he did not say in as many words.

Addressing the reporters, Pawar said his party had seat-sharing talks with Telugu Desam Party's (TDP) Chandrababu Naidu and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supreme Jayalalitha but 'no final decision has been taken'.

The Minister said the party was looking beyond Maharashtra and wanted to put candidates for around 20 Lok Sabha seats outside the state.

Hundreds of NCP members from all across the state took part in the meeting and told Pawar that the party should insist on contesting at least 24 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra if alliance with Congress is to continue.

Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and Tariq Anwar were also presented in the meeting.

On Congress's pre-poll strategy, Pawar said, "Our desire is to have a national alliance with Congress. I hope Congress takes a decision on the issue at least a week before last date for filing nominations," Pawar said.

The Agriculture Minister said if Congress goes ahead with its decision they have to take separate route in separate states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Orissa and the North-East.

On the occasion, Pawar also talked about the terrorism, saying the US was responsible for terrorism across the world.

Hundreds of party workders from across the state took part in the meeting, including top-level leaders like Praful Patel, R. R. Patil and Tariq Anwar. (ANI)

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