Congress, NCP now focus on seat swap
The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) may have fixed a seat-sharing arrangement for the Assembly elections, but the parties are now facing the challenge of deciding which constituencies they will each contest.The two allies have agreed to contest 125 seats each, but will have to exchange seats they had previously contested based on the current political scenario. The alliance now rests on a smooth transfer of seats, talks for which are in progress. On Wednesday, the senior leadership of the State Congress held day-long deliberations in Delhi to decide candidates for 100 seats. And on Thursday, both parties held a meeting and talks are likely to be over within a day or two. “Both parties have reached an understanding that each will contest 125 seats. This formula has been reached on the basis of the present strength of the parties. A number of seats will be exchanged, and that will be finalised within a day or two,” said a senior Congress leader, who was part of the negotiations. He said neither ally wishes to push the discussions to a breaking point.A senior NCP leader, too, confirmed the seat-sharing formula. “There are allies such as Raju Shetti, Left and others. We will be sparing 38 seats for them,” he said. NCP president Sharad Pawar has already announced five candidates from Beed district. The Leader of Opposition in the Council, Dhananjay Munde, will contest from Parli against his cousin, Women and Child Welfare Minister Pankaja Munde. Besides, Sandip Kshirsagar will contest from Beed, Namita Mundada from Kej, Prakash Solanke from Majalgaon and Vijaysinh Pandit from Gevrai. “The exchange of seats will take place based on the present political scenario. We may get seats which were never with us but are favourable to us now, and vice versa,” the Congress leader said.Sources said the NCP has asked for seats such as Igatpuri, which the Congress has contested in the past. Two seats in Navi Mumbai, which were with the NCP, may go to the Congress as local NCP leaders have joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In 2014, the parties had contested the elections independently. In 2009, the NCP fielded candidates in 117 seats, and the Congress in 171. The share of the Congress has come down to 125 owing to the losses it suffered in successive Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the State. Former Chief Minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said the alliance with the NCP was final. “We are together and will be fighting the polls in an alliance. As of now, our alliance is unaffected by whether the BJP and Shiv Sena contest together or not. We are of finalising candidates and the list will be out soon,” he said.