2nd round of Cong-NCP talks begin, NCP may settle for less

2nd round of Cong-NCP talks begin, NCP may settle for less

Mumbai: The second round of seat-sharing talks between Congress and NCP leaders for the 13 October Assembly polls in Maharashtra began here on Wednesday, amid indications that the Sharad Pawar-led party may settle for a few seats less than it contested in 2004 elections.

The first round of formal talks between the partners of the 10-year-old alliance in the state was held last night but remained inconclusive and both sides agreed to meet again on Wednesday.

“The two side have agreed to fight the Assembly polls together to thwart the Shiv Sena-BJP combine’s bid to wrest power and are working on constituency-wise winning probabilities," a senior Congress leader said after the meeting began at chief minister Ashok Chavan’s official residence Varsha in south Mumbai.

Meanwhile, NCP leader Praful Patel in Delhi said his party was “ready to give up some seats" to Congress and the decision on seat-sharing would be taken amicably in a couple of days.

The meeting is expected to take stock of the strengths and weaknesses of both the parties as per their performance in the Lok Sabha elections, he said.

Congress is inclined to conceded between 110 to 115 seats for NCP out of the total 288 Assembly seats in Maharashtra, the leader said.

In 2004, NCP contested 122 seats and won 71, while Congress fought on 166 and bagged 69.

At the talks, Congress is represented by Chavan, MPCC president Manikrao Thakre, Maharashtra minister Narayan Rane, Mumbai Congress chief Kripashankar Singh, and union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

Another union minister Sushilkumar Shinde could not attend the meet as he is away, sources said.

NCP is represented by Patel, Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal, state NCP chief R. R. Patil, Water resources minister Ajit Pawar and Mumbai NCP president Sachin Ahir.