New Delhi : For yet another day, the four major parties in Mahara-shtra – Sena-BJP on the one end, and Congress-NCP on the other – could not bring finality to the dragging issues of continuity of their alliances and the seat-sharing formula.
Perhaps late in the day, the inauspicious ‘pitra paksha’ was also dragged into the picture and the leaders opined that the tug-of-war would continue till September 24th, when the period ends and there would be clarity.
In this scenario of uncertainty, Congress party’s political boss Ahmed Patel is scheduled to travel to Mumbai for a joint Congress-NCP meeting at 10 am tomorrow to hammer out a solution. “It is expected that Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, PCC chief Manikrao Thakre from Congress, NCP boss Sharad Pawar, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, state chief Sunil Tatkare and former union minister Praful Patel would be at this meeting,” said a senior functionary.
Technically the differences over the seat sharing formula have been narrowed from the NCP’s demand of 144 seats, as the Congress has already conceded 124 seats and would be prepared to go upto 130. But the NCP still wants more and could settle at 136. Anyway, the NCP is expected to take a final call after this meeting.
The Sena-BJP tangle on the other hand was still limited to declaration of intent that the alliance should continue with not much movement over the seat-sharing formula and the Sena made it clear that nothing less than 150 would do.
Insiders also pointed out that the tug-of-war is not just over the number but also about the quality of seats, and then the biggest question of them all – who would be the chief minister?
For the sake of record, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi maintained: “We are fully hopeful, we want the alliance and we hope that it will be done but finally it does not materialize, then we are competent enough to stand on our own and contest.”
Sonia leaves it to state leaders : Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday decided to go by the wishes of the Maharashtra party leaders on the issue of the Assembly elections on October 15 and finalise the number of seats they would like to give to its coalition partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to contest this time.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar is also reported to have allowed his own second line of defence headed by general secretary Praful Patel to negotiate with the Congress.
Congress sources said both sides will be holding their first joint meeting in Mumbai on Tuesday at 10 am to work out the nitty-gritty of the alliance and distribution of the seats.