The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Monday wrapped up the alliance deal for the Lok Sabha elections, with NCP supremo Sharad Pawar forcing the old 26:22 formula implemented in Maharashtra in 2004 and 2009.

The talks were held at the residence of Defence Minister A K Antony, chairman of the AICC panel for alliances. Sonia Gandhi”s political secretary Ahmed Patel from the Congress and union minister Praful Patel from the NCP participated in the talks.

Pawar not only succeeded in stalling the Congress demand for 28 seats this time, but he also secured assurance for one seat in Bihar to field union minister of state for agriculture Tariq Anwar. Though hailing from Bihar, Tariq is currently a Rajya Sabha member from Maharashtra in the NCP quota.

The Congress initially wanted 29 seats and then scaled down to 28 on the ground that it had performed much better, winning 17 of the 26 seats contested last time as against the NCP succeeding to win only seven. Pawar, however, stumped the demand citing the recent Assembly elections that showed the Congress popularity declining.

Sources said the negotiations on identification of the seats that each party will contest remained inconclusive as the Congress sought two seats contested by the NCP last time in return for two seats the Congress lost to Shiv Sena in the 2009 elections.

There were differences also on Kolhapur seat that was allotted to the NCP but won by its rebel Sadashiv Mandalik, who was denied the ticket despite a sitting member. The Congress is seeking this seat this time.

“Pawar kept insisting that exchange of seats will create problems as his party was already campaigning in all its old constituencies. In view of deadlock, both decided to sit along with the state leaders of both the parties to identify the seat distribution,” sources added.

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Free Press Journal