The Congress and NCP leaders have started exercising their rights for more seats as the top leadership in both the parties initiated the process of political alliances in Maharashtra. “If we look at the 2014 Lok Sabha and assembly results in Maharashtra, there is hardly any difference between Congress and NCP. Therefore, NCP would expect equal share at par with Congress,” NCP leader Ajit Pawar said.
Earlier, NCP senior leader Praful Patel also made similar expectations for a pre-poll alliance. Similar sentiments are expressed by elected members and leaders within the NCP. They have indicated that the party will expect a formula of equal seat-sharing to make the pre-poll alliance workable in Maharashtra assembly polls and the same formula for the Lok Sabha.
Although elections are scheduled in 2019, the process of political permutation and combination has already set in Maharashtra. Individual parties are going out of the way to conduct surveys and access their party’s present political standing.
The NCP is also keenly watching the exercise underway in Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee led by Ashok Chavan and Congress general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra Mohan Prakash.
The Congress has been making a district-wise assessment to elicit a response on pre-poll alliance with NCP. A senior general secretary of MPCC requesting anonymity said, ” We have arrived at two conclusions at this moment. In principle, we want a pre-poll alliance with the NCP. Secondly, Congress is not going to give 50 percent seats to NCP in Lok Sabha or assembly.”
Explaining the reasons, the MPCC official who is part of the political process said,”Maharashtra is an important state. It will definitely retain upper edge against NCP in the state assembly.”
The MPCC president Ashok Chavan has already rejected Maharashtra Navnirman Sena as a pre-poll ally of Congress and NCP.
The Congress leadership has said, “The pre-poll alliance can take place with only those parties who are ideologically in sync with Congress and secularism.” The party is open for talks with Peasant and Workers Party, Samajwadi Party and CPI (M). It has also started discussions with Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana led by Raju Shetti.
While there could be some give and take in Lok Sabha, the question of conceding 50 percent seats to NCP in state assembly is being ruled out across the districts.
Another reason which is being cited by AICC and MPCC leaders for holding more seats compared to NCP is the ground reality. “If we reflect the traditional base of both parties Congress has organisational base across Maharashtra. The NCP has no base in Vidarbha which has almost 62 assembly seats. Or in Mumbai with 36 assembly seats. Together, these account for 98 seats,” an AICC functionary said.
However, NCP political managers believe the pre-poll alliance will have to be determined by the results of 2014 results. The Congress had won 42 seats and NCP 41 seats in the 2014 Maharashtra assembly. The BJP won 122 seats, Shiv Sena 63 seats. The smaller partied and independents won 20 seats. The total strength of state assembly is 288 seats.
In Lok Sabha, Congress won 2 seats and NCP 4 seats. The BJP won 23 seats and Shiv Sena 18 seats. A lone seat went to Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana.