The debate between the Congress and its ally Nationalist Congress Party on seat-sharing in Maharashtra for the Lok Sabha elections has taken a new turn. The NCP has told the Congress to go ahead on its own if it was sure of winning all the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
The NCP indicated it could explore fighting all the seats on its own.
State Congress chief Manikrao Thakre had said the Congress would insist on a 29:19 seat-sharing formula, considering the fall in NCP’s strength in the state. Thakre has repeatedly been saying the party wouldn’t accept NCP’s 26:22, by which the Congress would field its nominees for 26 seats.
Bhaskar Jadhav, NCP’s state president, said, “'The Congress has been making several statements about fighting the elections on its own. We urge it to go ahead. If the party is sure of winning all its 48 seats by fielding secular candidates and through its secular ideas, we wish it good luck.”
He, however, added that both parties should sit together to come up with a seat-sharing formula.
“The Congress is not doing the right thing, avoiding any real discussion with us, but later using the media to make statements about seat-sharing ratios. We have heard the ratios proposed by the Congress through the media; we would never agree to these,” he said.
However, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman Sachin Sawant said its stand on seat-sharing was unfortunate, as it overlooked the alliance’s larger goal of keeping communal forces at bay.
“The seat-sharing was decided after discussions between two parties in 2004 and 2009, on the basis of the political situation then. We do not understand why there should not be a discussion on the current political situation. The current position suggests the Congress ought to contest 29 seats. If the NCP has any other logic, let it explain that to us at a meeting.”
Last week, NCP leaders had asked the Congress to decide whether the NCP or the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena were its immediate political rivals. The Congress shouldn’t blame the NCP for various scams as the government in Maharashtra was a coalition one, they had said. The NCP had dared the Congress to reach the crucial figure of 272 in the Lok Sabha on its own.
Meanwhile, on the condition of anonymity, a senior Congress minister said agreeing to the NCP’s 26:22 seat-sharing formula would be suicidal.
“The Congress should not succumb to the NCP’s pressure. Instead, it should consolidate its efforts to further improve its position across Maharashtra. However, the final decision depends on the party high command,” he said.