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Maha council polls: Flip-flop in seat-sharing plan baffles Congress men

The Congress had recently decided to contest five state council seats on its own, but after a meet between Prithviraj Chavan and Sharad Pawar, two seats were left to NCP

An abrupt turnaround in the ruling Congress’ decision over the number of seats to contest on its own in the state council polls has baffled the Congress circle.

Chavan and his party men had decided on May 8 to contest five seats. File pic
Chavan and his party men had decided on May 8 to contest five seats. File pic

Barely three days ago, the top leadership of the Congress had decided to contest five seats in the state council polls on its own. But, on Sunday, it was changed to three, following a meeting with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), leaving Congress workers appalled.

The party had decided to contest three vacancies from the graduates’ and two from the teachers’ constituencies without any alliance or support to any other candidate. The decision was taken on May 8, during a meeting between Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief Manikrao Thakre and senior Congress leaders.

A Congress press release had said senior leaders would be appointed as observers during the polls, the schedule of which is expected to be announced soon. It also stated that, unlike in the past, the party would not announce its support to any candidate.

But, during a meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar, both Chavan and Thakre agreed to leave two seats for NCP candidates. Thakre confirmed the decision soon after the meeting. According to a party leader, the sudden change was surprising, when it had already been decided to contest all the seats.

Party workers and ticket aspirants believe that the earlier decision was been taken to increase party presence in graduates’ and teachers’ constituencies. “By staying away from the elections, we were denying an opportunity to Congress aspirants,” said the leader, adding, “but now, it has come as a big blow.”

Water conservation minister Dr Nitin Raut, who was present during the meeting when the decision to contest all the seats was taken, denied any flip-flop. “Our decision was to contest three seats, leaving two for NCP,” he said.

But, Congress sources say both the parties panicked over the anti-incumbency factor, and that the revision is a face-saving exercise undertaken by the two allies jointly.

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