Congress-NCP stalemate on

Mumbai :  A day after their top state leaders met for the first time to discuss distribution of seats, the deadlock between NCP and Congress, who shared power in Maharashtra for the past 15 years, is far from over.

The Congress has even ruled out any further talks.

NCP’s demands for rotational chief ministership for the party in the event of the ruling alliance coming to power yet again and half of the state’s 288 Assembly seats apparently thwarted further discussions on seat-sharing.

Congress has offered NCP 124 seats, 10 more than it had contested in the 2009 Assembly polls.

Congress’ campaign committee chief Narayan Rane said Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan was in discussion with the party high command over NCP’s demand for rotational chief ministership and a decision on the alliance would be taken late in the evening.

“High Command’s views are being sought on the latest NCP demand and a decision will be communicated later today,” he said when asked about the status of the Congress-NCP talks and added there would be no more meetings with the ally on seat-sharing.

However, there was no announcement on the issue at the time of going to press.

In an indication that the alliance could be in trouble, Chavan said though Con-gress was keen on continuing its ties with NCP, “impossible conditions” were making things “difficult.”

“Congress is keen on continuing the alliance with NCP to keep the communal forces at bay. But if impossible conditions are put, things become difficult. Had the talks started without pre-conditions, we would have sorted out all issues by now,” Chavan told reporters in his hometown Karad.

Though the NCP core committee, including party chief Sharad Pawar, met for long hours discussing the seat-sharing imbroglio, the leaders remained tight-lipped about their plans.

“I have nothing to say on this,” said senior NCP leader and a close Pawar aide Praful Patel after the meeting. NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said, “We kept waiting for an invitation for talks but none came. We are ready to contest all seats if our alliance falls apart.”

Meanwhile, a senior Congress leader expressed fear that senior NCP leader Supriya Sule’s statement about the alliance may harm the electoral prospects of both the parties.

Supriya Sule, in a TV program on Tuesday, had alleged said that the fate of the (Congress-NCP) alliance was being decided by two Patels, referring to NCP’s Praful Patel and AICC member Ahmed Patel. “We are trying to oppose Modi by appealing the Marathi sentiment of the voters. But a wrong signal has been sent out by saying that two Gujrathi politicians are deciding the fate of the alliance in Maharashtra,” the leader said.

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