Pawar, Sonia hold seat-sharing talks ahead of Maharashtra polls

Sharad Pawar, Sonia Gandhi, seat-sharing in Maharashtra, Maharashtra Congress, Shiv Sena
In 2014, the Congress and NCP had contested the state elections separately.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar on Tuesday met interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her residence and reportedly discussed seat-sharing arrangement between the two parties for the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly elections.

According to PTI, Pawar has given a final shape to the seat-sharing arrangement, slated to be held in October, but detailed discussions will continue for the next few days before a final tie-up plan is laid out.

The two parties had already decided to contest the polls together. In the past few weeks, Pawar and Gandhi have met several times to discuss the seat-sharing arrangement.

Meanwhile, a meeting between Gandhi and Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, scheduled on Tuesday, was postponed. Scindia is the chairman of the Congress screening committee for the Maharashtra Assembly elections.

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According to news agency ANI, the postponement of the meeting comes at a time when the party is expected to appoint a new state chief of Madhya Pradesh Congress. Party workers in that state have demanded the appointment of Scindia in the top post.

On the other side, the BJP and the Shiv Sena had already struck a seat-sharing deal in February after a meeting between then BJP chief Amit Shah and Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray. The two parties had agreed to fight an equal number of seats in the 288-member Assembly.

However on Monday, reports quoted BJP sources saying that the saffron party was keen on fighting more seats than its ally Shiv Sena in view of the “changed” political scenario in the state.

With the BJP’s massive victory in the Lok Sabha elections and confident of popular support after the government’s move to repeal provisions of Article 370, a section of BJP leaders believes the terms of engagement with the ally should be renegotiated.

So far, there has been no official word from either of the parties about the number of seats they want to contest. However, a BJP leader said that the party may look forward to fight from 160-170 seats in the state.

(With inputs from agencies)