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Cong to contest 159 seats; NCP 129
September 19, 2004 19:57 IST
The Congress will be contesting 159 seats in the Maharashtra assembly polls with its ally NCP getting 129 seats in the seat-sharing deal formalised by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar last night.
This is the lowest ever number of seats that the Congress will be contesting from in Maharashtra.
The seat sharing arrangement was made public by the NCP, which announced its list of 104 candidates today in Mumbai. The party said it has been alotted 129 seats.
The alliance sources had earlier said that Congress would have to part with its share of seats to allies like the CPI(M), CPI, RPI (Gavai) and even to the Lalu Prasad-led RJD and Ramvilas Paswan-led Lok Janashakti to form a 'grand alliance' against the saffron combine.
While the NCP will have to part with only a few seats to the RPI (Athawale), the Congress would have to allot seats in the range of 20-25 to the other allies.
In that case, Congress would in effect get seats between 130-140 for itself, less than half of the 288 assembly constituencies in the state.
The Congress, over the years, was the only party which had contested most of the seats and had left only a few to its allies.
After parting of ways by Pawar, who formed the NCP in 1999, Congress had given some 30-40 seats to RPI factions, including the one led by R S Gavai. Only two candidates of the RPI factions had emerged victorious in the last assembly polls.
The delay in release of Congress list of candidates is, according to party sources, to minimise the chances of rebellion in western Maharashtra even as it was occupied in last minute consultations with its allies.
Earlier in the day, chairperson of the Congress Media Cell Girija Vyas told PTI that the party would come out with its list of candidates only tomorrow.
AICC General Secretary in charge of Maharashtra Margaret Alva and Maharashtra Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde held discussions in the capital to finalise its candidates.
Senior leaders discussed among themselves and Alva and Shinde later drove down to Gandhi's 10, Janpath residence to brief her about the confabulations.
Shinde told reporters separately that announcement of the Congress list was delayed as it was still discussing seat allocation to its allies.
He said there were many ticket aspirants for a single seat in the state and hence the delay in choosing the right nominee.
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