The Congress' Maharashtra unit said on Friday that it wanted a fresh negotiation with its 10-year-old ally Nationalist Congress Party, a move that comes barely a month ahead of the Assembly elections and is likely to delay seat-sharing talks.
Speaking at a 'Meet-the-Press' programme organised by the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh in Mumbai, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Manikrao Thakre said the renegotiation would focus on new parameters for seat-sharing in the 288-member state Assembly.
In 2004, seats were distributed in the proportion of 164 and 124 for Congress and NCP respectively. Congress wants a change in this formula, but NCP wants to stick to it. Remaining non-committal on continuing the alliance with the Sharad Pawar-led party, Thakre said discussions on pre-poll pact are going on at the highest level in Delhi.
"Talks are on and a final decision is yet to be taken. We are in touch with the central leaders and providing the necessary information when asked," he said. "The high command will decide the new criteria," he said, responding to a question on how the issue of CM's post and other ministerial portfolios would be decided, if the alliance materialises and retains power.
Thakre said Congress is open to compromise for the lliance. "But, the ground realities about the strength of the party post-delimitation and performance in the recent Lok Sabha elections cannot be ignored."
Thakre said after delimitation, Congress should be contesting 173 seats as against its share of 164 in the last Assembly elections. On the other hand, NCP's share should be 115 as against 124 last time, he said. "We have three Independent MLAs who will contest this time on Congress ticket, while three sitting Shiv Sena MLAs have joined us. These six MLAs won last time defeating NCP candidates. We expect the NCP to leave these seats for us in this election," Thakre said.
He said this takes the Congress share to 179 seats. The Congress leader was, however, quick to add that he was just putting forth the facts and not making any demand to NCP. Thakre said Congress had dropped its claim on Beed parliamentary seat in the last election when Jaisingrao Gaikwad quit BJP to join NCP and contest Lok Sabha polls.
He said the Congress was prepared to leave six seats for Independent MLAs who are supporters of NCP. The MPCC chief said the party had requested the Election Commission not to change the date of counting of votes. The counting will be taken up on October 22, a week after the voting on October 13.
In 2004 polls, NCP had contested less Assembly seats than Congress, but won more that its senior partner. However,
Congress performed better in 2009 Lok Sabha polls and increased its tally, while the Sharad Pawar-led outfit lost a few seats over the 2004 figure.