Poll pacifiers: calm words for NCP, 22 seats for RPI

As Sharad Pawar placates agitated party members after Congress workers attacked the office of NCP MoS in Chiplun, Sena-BJP seal the deal with RPI

Monday saw hectic activity in state politics three months ahead of the impending polls to civic and local bodies. While one of the developments has sealed an alliance, the other found it difficult to keep a long-standing coalition from rupturing.

In need of the ally: Despite the recent attack on the office of Minister of State for Urban Development Bhaskar Jadhav at Chiplun in Ratnagiri district by Congress workers, NCP chief Sharad Pawar asked his party men to align with the Congress wherever possible. FILE PIC

The parties in and out of power held court with their respective coalition partners to chalk out the way forward. While the Shiv Sena-BJP, in a meeting held at the mayor's bungalow in Shivaji Park, acceded to giving 22 seats to Ramdas Athawale-led RPI for the coming BMC polls, the NCP meeting at Mumbai Education Trust near Lilavati Hospital in Bandra, discussed the possibility of an alliance with the Congress.

Chaired by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, the NCP meeting took serious note of a recent attack on the office of Minister of State for Urban Development Bhaskar Jadhav at Chiplun in Ratnagiri district by Congress workers. The attack is being viewed as a fallout of the recent verbal altercation in public meetings between Industries Minister Narayan Rane and MP son Nilesh on one side and Jadhav on the other.

Earlier, Rane had publicly chided the NCP, saying that the Congress would not wait for it to forge a poll pact, instead the latter should approach the Congress. The duel witnessed by party workers saw use of abusive language, and later the assault on Jadhav's office.

Yesterday, NCP workers retaliated by ransacking the Congress office and then blocking the Goa highway for a few hours.

At the meeting, NCP ministers demanded immediate action against the assailants. But pacifying his colleagues, party supremo Pawar still asked them to align with the Congress wherever possible, sources revealed.

However, the issue is certain to further strain the relations between the ruling coalition partners.

RPI wants more
Meanwhile, on the saffron side, Shiv Sena-BJP agreed to allocate 22 seats to RPI. The meeting was attended by Sena leaders Subhash Desai, Anil Desai; BJP leaders Raj Purohit, Atul Bhatkhalkar; RPI leaders Arjun Dangle, Avinash Mahatekar, Dipak Nikalje and others.

The RPI wants another 8-9 seats and hopes to get at least 2-3 more, party leaders told media persons at the meeting.

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