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Eyeing Patel votes, Cong may tie up with NCP
October 16, 2007 13:55 IST
The Congress is likely to tie up with Sharad Pawar's [Images] Nationalist Congress Party for the coming assembly elections in Gujarat.
Last year, the Congress chose to fight alone but this time it seems party chief Sonia Gandhi [Images] has decided not to take any chances in the attempt to dislodge Narendra Modi, the state's chief minister for the last five years.
Politically, the Congress wants to increase its share of the Patel vote bank from this arrangement with Pawar. As Modi faces dissent from a section of Patel leaders led by Kushabhau Patel, Gandhi is weighing the possibilities of a gain if it shares seats with the NCP, known to have a base among Patel voters.
Negotiations between the two sides are still going on. Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel is the interlocutor from the NCP and he is in touch with the Congress brass.
However, the two sides are yet to reach an agreement on the number of seats to be shared. NCP has demanded around 20 seats while the Congress does not want to give away more than 9-10 seats.
In the last elections, in almost 18 seats, the cumulative vote of the Congress and NCP was more than the BJP, but the saffron party won because of infighting between the two parties who are now partners in the UPA.