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Now, NCP drives hard bargain for 'best' seats

After announcement of alliance with Congress, NCP asks for seats in which it has an upper hand those it won in 2007 for optimum results

Now that the alliance has been forged between the NCP and the Congress, the partners are engaged in intense deliberations over which are the more demographically-suited seats for the NCP to contest from during the civic polls.

 
Days after the NCP and the Congress announced to contest the civic polls
together, PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal went into a huddle with Mumbai
Congress chief Kripashankar Singh over seat sharing yesterday.
The meeting ended on an irresolute note


Of the 58 seats that Congress offered the NCP, 14 have NCP corporators, while the party is number two in 12 others. Therefore, it was easy to arrive at the decision that NCP will contest these seats.

But many of the remaining seats are a matter of contention. A meeting at the Mumbai Education Trust institution in Bandra yesterday lasted for over five hours, but failed to sort out the matter of the remaining seats.

Attended by PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, Minister of State for Housing Sachin Ahir, Mumbai Congress chief Kripashankar Singh and NCP city chief Narendra Verma, the meeting ended on an irresolute note.

"There are certain disputes over 4-5 seats," said Ahir after the meeting. "After being allocated the winning seats and the seats where the party candidates are at number two position, we are discussing the allocation of the other seats the Congress has offered us," said Ahir of the NCP.

Around 11-12 seats offered to the NCP are a stronghold of the Shiv Sena-BJP combine and the NCP thinks it has a very long shot of winning these. "The winning margin is huge and difficult to bridge. So we are asking for some reasonable allocation," Ahir said.

According to party sources, NCP is planning to double its winning tally which is currently 14. To achieve this aim, it is playing cautious while choosing the seats to contest, and is asking for the seats in areas where it has already won a Lok Sabha (Mumbai North East) or an Assembly constituency seat, such as Anushakti Nagar, Kurla and Worli.

Uptown downtown
A remarkable distinction between the meetings of Cong-NCP leaders in Mumbai and those in Thane did not escape the attention of the riff-raff.

While the Mumbai leaders held meetings at official residences of ministers or education institutions such as MWET, their Thane counterparts kept things snazzy and upscale. A meeting on whether to contest Thane Municipal Corporation polls jointly was held at a seven-star hotel in South Mumbai.

A few prominent leaders from both the parties, including some MLAs and MPs, were present on the occasion. The meeting ended without any conclusive decision, sources said.

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