Tug of war among allies over Lok Sabha seats
With the 2014 general elections appearing to be too close to call, each one of the 543 Lok Sabha seats to be contested has assumed immense importance.
So much so that it’s no more just a battle between UPA, NDA and an amorphous third front. Rather allies are wrestling each other to wrest that one extra constituency during seat sharing that could make all the difference in deciding the amount of influence a faction will wield when the last vote is counted.
Consider the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, whose top leaders have been flexing muscles over the past few days to set the stage in their favour.
While the grand old party has been rigid in its stance of not allocating more than 19 seats to its ally based on the latter’s performance in the 2009 elections to the Lok Sabha and the state assembly, it was the turn of Sharad Pawar’s outfit on Thursday to reaffirm its demand for 22 seats.
Addressing a party function at Pune on Tuesday, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief Manikrao Thakre had advanced the logic behind his party’s stern refusal to share more than 19 constituencies with NCP. He pointed out that the ally could muster just 8 of the 22 constituencies it contested in 2009. Besides, the Congress had to allot that many seats purely on the basis of NCP’s performance in the 2004 state assembly elections, when Sharad Pawar’s party won 12 seats more than Congress.
Now, the situation has changed, as Congress outperformed NCP in the 2009 general elections. Accordingly, the seat sharing formula has to change, he opined.
In response, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik maintained that the seat-sharing formula was finalised by senior leaders of both parties in Delhi. Also, the CM had reportedly said that allocation of constituencies should be based on winnability. According to Malik, the statement gives credence to NCP’s view of contesting seats dominated by the party.
On the other hand, RPI leader Ramdas Athawale has demanded six Lok Sabha and one Rajya Sabha seat for his party from the NDA. Seats in the lower house sought by him are south central Mumbai, Kalyan, Ramtek, Latur, Pune and Satara – four of which were contested by Shiv Sena and two by BJP in the last polls. Athawale has written a letter to BJP state campaign committee chief Gopinath Munde, staking his party’s claim on Pune and Latur – the constituencies currently with Congress, but that were occupied by BJP in the past.
Party sources said Athawale was asking for a Rajya Sabha berth for himself to avoid contesting the general elections, offering to be available for LS campaigning.
No of Lok Sabha seats from the state contested by the Congress in the 2009 elections
No of Lok Sabha seats from the state contested by the NCP in the 2009 elections