Pune has been bone of fierce contention between Congress, NCP

Mumbai: Though the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) claimed that they came to consensus over 40 out of 48 seats of the Lok Sabha in the state, the struggle for mastery over Pune seat continues to be a bone of fierce contention between both the parties. NCP is trying to grab nine seats of the total 10 LS seats in the sugar belt of Western Maharashtra region from the Congress including Pune. Congress leader expressed doubt that like 2014, the NCP may break the knot of alliance with the Congress at the last moment making Pune seat as prestigious.

Except Solapur, reserved for Scheduled Caste, NCP claimed on another nine seats in Pune, Solapur, Kolhapur, Satara and Sangli district. Hatkanangale would be given to sitting Member of Parliament Raju Shetti of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana from the NCP’s kitty. The Congress has left Maval, Baramati, Shirur, Madha, Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur to NCP, according to an insider.

“It was assumed that NCP chief Sharad Pawar will contest from Pune. He wanted to lead third front and hence needed to contest LS. However, after result in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the equation has changed,” claimed the Congress leader.  He further added, as of today, NCP has no name to push for the Pune LS polls. The NCP may push the name of Satish Magar, developer of ‘Magarapatta City’, a ‘well wisher’ of Pawar. However, he had denied the proposal.

The Congress leader claimed, “We fear that as a part of a larger game, the NCP would break the alliance with us in a bid to stop Congress from growing in the state. If Congress will sweep, the NCP would have no option other than to merge in the Congress.” The Congress insider from Pune claimed, former city president Abhay Chhajed, Mohan Joshi, former minister Balasaheb Shivalkar, corporator Arvind Shinde and Anant Gadgil have shown interest to contest the LS polls.

Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan’s name was also floated, however, he had clarified that he would not be contested Pune seat. Another party insider, however, observed that neither the Congress nor the NCP had strong candidates for the Pune seat ever since Congress leader Suresh Kalmadi, who held the constituency, exited the political arena.

We have reached an agreement on 40 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra. However, we are yet to reach a decision on who will contest Pune,” Ajit Pawar had earlier said, remarking that NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Congress President Rahul Gandhi were holding discussions on seat-sharing arrangements between the two parties at the national level.

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