Congress-NCP leaders fail to break deadlock over seat-sharing

Congress, NCP seat talks inconclusive
Mumbai, Sep 23:  With just four days left before nominations for Maharashtra Assembly polls come to a close, the state's ruling Congress-NCP combine on Tuesday failed to iron out their differences on seat-sharing as the two sides refused to resile on the number of seats each wants to contest.

In the first direct talks between senior leaders of the two parties since the meeting between Congress President Sonia Gandhi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar on August 6, Congress reiterated its offer of 124 seats to its ally of 15 years, which the latter refused to accept.

Though Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan declined to divulge what transpired in the meeting, Congress' election campaign committee chief Narayan Rane said NCP was offered 124 seats, the same number it had contested in 2004.

Defending the offer, Chavan said, "In 2009 we got double the seats in Lok Sabha polls so NCP gave us 10 more seats in Assembly. In 2014, NCP got double the seats than us in Lok Sabha so we will give those many seats (ten) back." NCP has been insisting on contesting half of the state's 288 seats. Congress had contested 174 seats in the last poll and NCP 114.

enior party leader and a Sharad Pawar confidant, Praful Patel had said yesterday after NCP's Core Committee meeting that Congress's proposal was "unacceptable".

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, state NCP chief Sunil Tatkare, senior leader Chhagan Bhujbal and Patel held talks with Chavan, Maharashtra Congress President Manikrao Thakre and campaign committee chief Rane at the Chief Minister's official residence this morning which remained inconclusive.

With no headway in seat-sharing talks in sight, Congress said it will not be responsible for a split in the alliance and asked NCP to accept the seat-sharing proposal mooted by it.

"We hope the NCP will accept our proposal. If we take two steps forward to resolve the deadlock, we want our ally to do the same...we will not be responsible for any (possible) break up (of the alliance)," Thakre told reporters.


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