The Congress and the NCP Saturday announced their seat-sharing pact in Maharashtra for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls with the two parties agreeing to contest 26 and 22 seats respectively. Addressing a press conference here, Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan and senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar said 56 parties and organisations have come together to support the alliance to take on the BJP-Shiv Sena combine.
From its share of seats, the Congress will give Palghar seat to the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi and another undeclared seat to Raju Shetti’s Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana. From its 22 seats, the NCP will leave Hatkanangle seat for Shetti, who is the sitting MP from there, and give another to Independent MLA Ravi Rana’s Yuva Swabhiman Party. Without naming any parties, Chavan and Pawar dubbed those who stayed away from the Congress-NCP alliance as the “B team of the BJP”.
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The remarks were an apparent reference to Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar, who refused to join hands with the alliance. Pawar said the Congress-NCP combine was ready to give six seats to allies, adding that some parties tried their best to ensure the alliance doesn’t take shape.
“There is no doubt such parties were the B team of the BJP and their actions were intended to help the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance,” Pawar alleged.
Speaking at the press conference, Maharashtra NCP chief Jayant Patil said like-minded parties had come together to “save democracy, protect the Constitution” and expose the BJP’s “hypocrisy and lies”.
Chavan accused the BJP of using muscle power and money to prevent parties from joining the opposition alliance. “If the BJP had worked so well at the state and in the Centre, why are they poaching Congress and NCP leaders and giving them tickets,” Pawar asked.
Prominent among the parties which have joined hands with the Congress-NCP are Peasants and Workers Party (PWP), the Swabhimani Shektari Sanghatana (SSS), the Bahujan Vikas Agadhi (BVA), Independent MLA Ravi Rana’s Yuva Swabhiman Party, People’s Republican Party headed by Jogendra Kawade and the Republican Party of India (RPI Gavai).
While Kawade said he was happy all RPI factions had come together to fight the BJP, BVA leader Hitendra Thakur and Rana, who till some time ago supported the BJP-led state government, said they would try their best to ensure the opposition alliance wins maximum seats.
Overcoming their strained ties and grandiose declarations of going solo, the BJP and the Shiv Sena had announced their seat-sharing pact for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls last month.
The BJP will contest 25 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra and the Sena 23.