M A I N   N E W S

BJP-Sena alliance on the brink in M’rashtra
Seat sharing: Trouble for Cong as NCP wants 50:50 split
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, September 20
Ahead of the Assembly polls in Maharashtra next month, the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party and BJP-Shiv Sena alliances have ‘reached a breaking point’ over sharing of seats.

While the BJP and the Sena were still struggling to figure out which among the two was the senior partner in the state, Sharad Pawar-led NCP wants a 50:50 split (144 seats each) with the Congress. The Maharashtra Assembly has 288 seats.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar told reporters today that the NCP wanted to field its candidates on 144 seats since its performance in the Lok Sabha elections was far superior to the Congress. Pawar said the NCP would stake claim for the post of Chief Minister if it emerged as the single largest party.

"The talks have not progressed as per our expectations. We expect issues to be resolved at the earliest so that we can start campaigning," NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said.

The Congress has retaliated by threatening to go it alone. "The decision on sharing of seats will be taken by national leaders of the two parties. But if the NCP is adamant, then the Congress is prepared to go it alone," Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Manikrao Thakre said.

The Congress doesn’t want to concede more than 130 seats to the NCP on the grounds that it had performed very well in local body elections in the past two years. Congress and NCP leaders were also waiting to see the outcome of seat-sharing talks in the rival BJP-Sena camp before taking the next step, said sources.

A late-night meeting between Aditya Thackeray, son of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and senior BJP leaders on Friday failed to end the deadlock. "There was no new proposal from the Shiv Sena.

Tomorrow, we will take the list of candidates to senior leaders of our party,” OP Mathur, BJP’s leader in charge of Maharashtra, told reporters.

Sena sources, however, debunked Mathur’s claims and said they had offered 125 seats to the BJP as against 119 earlier. “Mission 150 is still intact for us,” said party spokesman Sanjay Raut.

Another sore point between the two parties is BJP’s demand for a few seats that are held by veteran MLAs of the regional party, claimed Sena sources. Among the contentious seats include the Jalgaon Assembly seat which is held by controversial legislator Sureshdada Jain, now attached to the regional party. Officially, leaders of both parties say they are hopeful of arriving at a settlement shortly.

‘Pawar behind BJP-Sena discord’

Leaders of four smaller parties in Maharashtra have alleged that NCP chief Sharad Pawar was behind the BJP-Sena tussle. “Pawar is trying to break the saffron alliance. He invited me to join hands with the NCP," said Republican Party of India (Athavale) leader Ramdas Athavale.

EC issues poll notification

The process for the October 15 election to the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly began on Saturday with authorities issuing the poll notification. The bypoll for the Beed LS seat, vacated following the death of BJP leader Gopinath Munde, will also be held on October 15.





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