Maharashtra assembly polls: NCP firm on alliance with Congress - and 144 seats
Two days after serving an ultimatum to ally Congress on finalizing the seat-share, the NCP Monday reiterated that it would continue the alliance but also remained firm on its demand for half the assembly seats - 144 - in the Oct 15 Maharashtra assembly elections.
Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Praful Patel said after a party core committee meeting that the party had unanimously decided to continue the alliance with Congress in the state, but was now waiting for a response from the latter.
NCP leaders Chhagan Bhujbal and Praful Patel
He said that Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan discussed the issue with him Sunday and another meeting would be held with Congress leaders Tuesday morning.
"However, the discussion on the number of seats has not been finalized between the two parties," Patel said after emerging from the meeting in which NCP president Sharad Pawar was also present.
Leaving little room for manoevure, Patel reiterated NCP's demand for 144 seats in view of the changed circumstances and expressed the hope that the Congress would respond positively to it.
"That (the seat-share) is also important, and we shall discuss it with Congress tomorrow. But we are firm on continuing the alliance (with Congress) in the state," Patel said as the NCP's deadline to Congress ended Monday.
The NCP had Saturday rejected Congress' proposal for 124 seats and issued the ultimatum, demanding 144 seats in the 288-member assembly, in view of the changed ground realities.
"The election process has already begun and time is running out. At best we can wait for another day for the Congress to respond," an exasperated Patel had said then, hinting that otherwise the NCP would go it alone in the elections.
He reiterated that the NCP was keen on continuing the alliance with the Congress whereby they shared power for 15 years in the state and 10 years at the centre.