The Congress Party and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the ruling-alliance partners in Maharashtra, are about to agree on a seat-sharing pact for the elections to the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly to be held in October 2009.
According to media reports, while the Congress is likely to contest in 174 seats, the Nationalist Congress Party is to contest in 114 seats.
The Congress has set up a committee to decide on the seat-sharing arrangements with the Nationalist Congress Party, which is led by Union Minister Sharad Pawar.
A senior leader of the Congress in Maharashtra was quoted as saying that the NCP has “almost agreed” to the seat-sharing formula put forward by the Congress and that the NCP could approach the Congress high command if it wants more seats.He added that the Congress was willing to the NCP up to 115 seats.
Defence Minister A K Antony, who is in charge of the affairs of the Congress in Maharashtra, has already held discussions with Sharad Pawar on the issue of seat-sharing among the alliance partners.
Praful Patel, leader of the NCP, told a news conference that his party was willing to “give up” a few seats to the Congress in the forthcoming Assembly elections.
The Congress had contested in a good number of seats in the last Assembly elections, Patel said, adding that the Congress would contest in more seats in the upcoming polls. A few seats have ceased to exist after delimitation.
In the last elections to the 288-seat Maharashtra Assembly held in 2004, while the Congress had contested in 157 seats and won in seats 69, the NCP had contested in 124 seats and secured 71 seats.
The Congress had bolstered its position in Maharashtra after the last elections to the Lok Sabha when it bagged 17 out of the 26 seats where it had been in the fray. On the contrary, the NCP put up a poor show by winning only 8 out of the 22 seats it had contested.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has petitioned the Election Commission of India requesting early Assembly elections in Jharkhand.
The BJP’s move is seen by political observers as a part of the party’s continued campaign to exert pressure on the UPA-led Central Government to conduct Assembly elections in Jharkhand at the earliest.
The term of President’s rule in Jharkhand ends on January 19, 2010.
The BJP wants the Jharkhand polls to be held along with the Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana which will be held in the first half of October 2009.
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