M A I N   N E W S

Sangma meets Advani over tie-up
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 6
In a bid to iron out differences on the path of a possible tie-up between the Nationalist Congress Party and the NDA for the Lok Sabha poll, senior party leader Purno A Sangma, who met Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani here today, is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Mr Sangma sought a meeting with Mr Vajpayee when the NCP-BJP tie-up ran into trouble over the issue of number of Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra being offered to the NCP, sources said.

Details about the meeting between Mr Advani and Mr Sangma were not available but a source said the former told the later that the tie-up has to be arrived within the possible constraints of all sides.

The exercise to bring in the NCP into the ruling alliance had begun last week with Mr Advani discussing the issue with Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray in Mumbai.

The Sena supremo, BJP sources said, had given a clear signal that he was not opposed to Sharad Pawar-led NCP becoming a member of the NDA though he expressed reservation over the presence of former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Chaggan Bhujbal in the NCP.

Another indication of the possible alliance was given by BJP General Secretary Pramod Mahajan who said the issue of Bhujbal was not a major one and would not be an obstacle for the entry of NCP of which there was a “50-50 chance”.

Mr Pawar too had stated in Pune recently that he was not averse to his party having an alliance with the NDA.

BJP sources said the alliance would strengthen the NDA in Maharashtra leaving the Congress in a weak position.

However, the lose ends in the tie-up are still to be tied up in the light of the NCP’s demand of a larger share of the Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.

“I think it is difficult to take the plan to fruition given the problems in seat sharing”, BJP General Secretary Pramod Mahajan, who had played a key role in the process, admitted today.

The difficulty arose when the Maratha strongman asked for more Lok Sabha seats.

The NCP joining NDA would have resulted in a formidable combination in Maharashtra as the BJP and Shiv Sena comprised the combined Opposition in the state.

It would have led to cornering of the Congress in the crucial state and immediate fall of the Sushilkumar Shinde Ministry in which NCP is a major partner.

Sources said the NCP was offered around 11 seats in the state as against the six it has at present.

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