NCP Wants Half of Maha Seats, Cong Says ‘Committee Will Decide’
Congress sources say that since it has always been the bigger party in Maharashtra, the NCP’s claim “is a bit much”.
NCP has laid claim to half of the Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra. Based on their better performance in the previous Lok Sabha elections, Sharad Pawar’s party has presented this formula to their ally, Congress. But the final decision on this will be taken by the 4-member NCP-Congress committee.
There are 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra. Congress had contested from 26 seats the last time, while ally NCP contested from 22. But Congress only managed to win 2 seats while NCP won 4. Based on this, the NCP is demanding more seats this time.
However, because they contested from more seats, Congress’s vote share was two percent higher than NCP’s.
In response to the NCP's claim, Congress sources say that because the Congress has always been the bigger party in the state, the NCP's claim is not right. A Congress leader said, “In light of coalition dharma, shuffling one or two seats is possible, but NCP claiming half the seats is a bit much.”
Committee Will Decide
For now, a committee has been formed to decide seat-sharing. It has Ashok Gehlot and Ashok Chavan from the Congress side, and Praful Patel and Jayant Patil from the NCP.
Disagreement Over Allies
Apart from the seat sharing disagreement, there is a difference between the two parties on which other allies be given space in the coalition. Congress wants Raju Shetty's ‘Shetakaaree Sangathan’ to be part of it. But at the moment, NCP does not. In 2014, Raju Shetty had contested elections as a BJP ally. But now they have quit the NDA, and Shetty has accused the NDA of betraying farmers.
Raju Shetty is considered to be an influential farmer leader in Western Maharashtra. He is especially considered a good influence in NCP Supremo Sharad Pawa’s Baramati areas. Raju Shetty is demanding these six Lok Sabha seats with NCP’s influence.
Raju Shetty's Politics Against Sharad Pawar
Shetty has designs on Sharad Pawar and NCP’s stronghold. Until now, Shetty’s politics has been against Sharad Pawar’s – Shetty is laying claim to seats which are currently held by NCP, like the Mahda seat, in which senior NCP leader Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil is MP. The last time around, the Shetakaaree Sangathan candidate lost this seat by only 25,000 votes. NCP is clearly unwilling to give up this seat to Shetty.
The NCP also holds the Kolhapur seat, and here too Shetty has laid claim.
Prakash Ambedkar's Party Not Congress’s Choice
Similarly, there has been no agreement on whether or not to include Prakash Ambedkar's party in the coalition. According to Congress sources, Ambedkar is also demanding 5 to 7 Lok Sabha seats, and Congress is simply not ready to give that many.
On the other hand, NCP believes that including Prakash Ambedkar in the coalition will send a message.
(This story was originally published on HindiQuint and has been translated by Mariam Shaheen.)
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