Putting an end to speculations of split, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said that his party will contest in alliance with the Congress in the upcoming assembly elections in Maharashtra. But the two haven't yet come to a consensus over seat sharing issue.
As per reports, of the total 288 assembly seats in the state the NCP is likely to stake claim to 132. The party had contested 114 seats in 2009 state polls. In the 2009 elections, there was agreement of 174 seats for the Congress and 114 for NCP.
NCP-Congress tussle over seat sharing in Maharashtra
As per a report published in the Indian Express, the state leadership has conveyed that as per its internal assessment the party could present a strong fight in 132 constituencies. They also said the party was confident of winning 88 seats out of these. On the remaining 44, it has conveyed that its candidates would at least give a tough fight.
One of the reasons behind NCP's pitching for more seats is the party's better performance in the Lok Sabha polls. Of the 48 parliamentary seats in Maharashtra, the NCP won four while Congress won just two. Buoyed by Modi wave, rival BJP had bagged 23 and its ally Shiv Sena bagged 18 seats.
But, considering NCP's recent conduct, despite being UPA ally it has supported the NDA at Centre on several occasions, the Congress would be in no mood to share equal number of seats.
Congress State unit chief Manikrao Thakre told party workers at a rally in Nagpur, "There is no question of Congress giving equal share (of seats) to NCP. There is no justification for this demand."
What has NCP done to irk Congress?
Ever since the start of 16th Lok Sabha, NCP has been giving jolts to its partner Congress by going against its will and supporting the Narendra Modi Government on several occasions. Despite being an opposition party, the NCP supported Bill to amend TRAI Act pushed by the BJP-led Government.
The bill to amend TRAI Act was aimed at removing a legal hurdle in appointment of former chairman of telecom regulatory body Nripendra Misra as principal secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The NCP has been consistently giving issue-based support to the Government on several occasions.
In the past, NCP leaders like Sharad Pawar as well as Praful Patel came out in open support of BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi by disagreeing with Rahul Gandhi's charge that Modi "abetted" the 2002 Gujarat riots.
"If the judicial system has given any pronouncement I think we ought to respect it and we need not question it further," Patel had said earlier this year while referring to a court ruling in December that upheld a Supreme Court panel's investigation clearing Modi on 2002 Gujarat riots.
Hence, it seems the NCP wants to keep its options open by offering issue-based support to the BJP at Centre as BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra is also at tenterhooks. There is a similar tug of war between the BJP and Shiv Sena over seat sharing issue, with the former demanding a larger share and the later not ready.
NCP would be hoping to seal a deal with the BJP if its alliance with Shiv Sena ends. But, going with BJP's stand that it will maintain good relation with Sena, chances of a BJP-NCP alliance look grim. Thus it will be interesting whether this politics of convenience will help the party or not.