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Congress, NCP reach seat-sharing deal in Maharashtra

Source: PTI
March 04, 2009 22:30 IST
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After four rounds of negotiations, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party have agreed to contest from 40-41 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra while a decision on the remaining eight seats will be taken soon, leaders of the two parties announced on Wednesday.

The two parties agreed on seat-sharing for 41 of the 48 Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra, state's Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said in Delhi today.

"We have reached the formula for sharing 40 seats and all Republican Party of India factions and Samajwadi Party will be adjusted in a few seats, besides finalising other seats," senior NCP leader and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel told reporters in Nagpur.

Sources in the Congress-NCP alliance said the two parties have agreed to contest 19 seats each out of the 40-41 and the decision on the remaining seats would be taken in a day or two.

NCP, a coalition partner of Congress-led United Progressive Alliance and Democratic Front governments at the Centre and Maharashtra respectively, has staked claim to three out of ten seats in the Vidarbha region, including that of Bhandara.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar will contest from Madha adjacent to his pocket-borough Baramati.

Patel's wife Varsha Ben is likely to contest from Bhandara.

The NCP, which contested 21 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra during the 2004 polls, is insisting that it be allotted at least 24 seats out of the total 48 seats.

However, Congress leaders, including Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, have reiterated that the same seat-sharing formula will continue.

Pawar is expected to hold talks with Ahmed Patel, political secretary to All India Congress Committee chief Sonia Gandhi, and senior Congress leader A K Antony, on seat-sharing.

NCP is a major partner in the Congress-led coalition government in Maharashtra. The two parties have held four rounds of talks to arrive at an agreement on putting up candidates for the Lok Sabha polls.

The finalisation of seat-sharing between Congress and NCP in Maharashtra scotches speculation over the possibility of the Sharad Pawar-led party's tie-up with Shiv Sena.

Besides Maharashtra -- the NCP is expected to have seat-sharing with Congress in three other states -- Goa, Gujarat and Bihar.

NCP leaders said the party would also be contesting seats in Orissa, Manipur, Mizoram and Assam. Interestingly, the party is in informal talks with the Biju Janata Dal, an ally of Bharatiya Janata Party, in Orissa. 

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