Making a renewed bid to stitch up a grand Opposition alliance ahead of the state polls in Maharashtra, negotiators from the Congress and NCP on Wednesday held seat-sharing talks with smaller and regional political outfits.
Following the first round of talks, there are clear indications that the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP), the Raju Shetti-led Swabhimaani Paksha, who had joined hands with the Congress-NCP in the Lok Sabha polls, will continue to be a part of the alliance. But on Tuesday, Shetti, in particular, insisted that the seat-sharing talks should be finalised as soon as possible.
On Tuesday, during alliance talks held between the Congress and NCP, leaders from both sides had accepted that reaching out to regional and smaller political outfits who are opposed to the BJP and the Shiv Sena was essential to avoid a split of anti-ruling establishment vote.
A day later, the Samajwadi Party, which hadn’t joined the Congress-led alliance during the Lok Sabha polls, was also invited for talks and so were representatives of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Also present during the deliberations was independent MLA Bacchu Kadu.
Following the meeting, SP’s Maharashtra chief and party’s serving MLA Abu Azmi said, “We are keen to be a part of the alliance to avoid a division of votes. Preliminary discussions were held today. Talks will continue. We want the talks to be completed at the earliest so that we can start preparing for the polls.”
According to information, the SP has put forth an initial demand of seven seats, while Shetti’s outfit has demanded 49 seats for now. However during Wednesday’s deliberations, both the outfits indicated that they were willing to hold negotiations over their demand. Maharashtra has a total of 288 assembly seats.
In the 2014 state poll when these parties contested independently, the Congress had won 42 seats and NCP 41. “Alliance talks with like-minded outfits are ongoing. The first batch of leaders (from smaller parties) were invited for talks today. In the coming days, discussions would be held with others as well,” said Leader of Opposition (Legislative Assembly) Vijay Wadettiwar.
The Congress has also decided to reach out to Prakash Ambedkar and Asadudin Owaisi-spearheaded Vanchit Bahujan Mahasangh, whose candidates had polled impressively in several constituencies during the LS poll. But Congress leaders says that the chances of the VBM joined the grand alliance are slim.
Ashok Chavan opposes Rs 4,000-crore bank guarantee to Samruddhi Corridor
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Tuesday accused the BJP-government of fiscal indiscipline following the state Cabinet’s decision to extend a Rs 4,000 crore bank guarantee to the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation for raising loans for the construction of the CM’s pet highway project, the Nagpur-Mumbai Super Communication Expressway (Samruddhi Corridor).
Alleging that senior bureaucrats in the finance department had opposed the proposal, Chavan said that the government had deviated from its own fiscal policy of not extending guarantees and loans for such projects.