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Maharashtra: Cong,NCP start poll talks

The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) initiated talks to form an alliance for the next Assembly elections in Maharashtra...

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
August 6, 2009 12:59:34 am

The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) initiated talks to form an alliance for the next Assembly elections in Maharashtra with AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh calling on NCP chief Sharad Pawar here on Wednesday. The two leaders reportedly discussed the broad framework of the alliance between the two parties. Singh heads a high-powered committee constituted by Sonia Gandhi to assess the ground reality in Maharashtra.

However,setting the tone for a hard bargain in its seat-sharing talks with the NCP,state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said here on Wednesday that his party would like to factor in the “ground reality” in the wake of delimitation exercise. This came after his meeting with Sonia.

Leaders of both the parties are proffering different arguments to support their claim for a bigger share of seats in the 288-member Assembly. In 2004,out of the 166 seats the Congress had contested,it won 68 while the NCP secured 71 out of the 122 seats it had contested. In the last Lok Sabha election,the Congress had contested 26 seats and the NCP 22 seats. Thakre said the Congress could have won “six-seven more seats” if the two parties had taken into account the existing ground reality. “We cannot have the old (2004) formula this time. The situation has changed due to delimitation,” Thakre said.

Congress leaders use the Lok Sabha election results to buttress their argument about the changed ground reality: the Congress won 17 out of the 26 Lok Sabha seats it contested while the NCP won only eight out of 22. NCP leaders,however,argue that the NCP’s vote share had improved,though slightly,whereas the Congress’s vote share had declined in the last Lok Sabha election in Maharashtra.

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