Amid an ongoing tussle with long-time ally NCP on seat sharing, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday warned that his party Congress will contest on all seats if there is no consensus with Sharad Pawar’s faction.
Asking the NCP to respect its time-tested alliance with Congress, Chavan said, “A decision on the alliance will be taken but the self-respect of parties should be kept in mind. Otherwise there will be no alliance.”
Chavan reportedly made this remark at a party rally in Pune.
The warning from the Maharashtra Chief Minister comes at a time when the talks between the two parties on sharing seats for the Assembly election due in October have run into rough weather.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar has refused to play junior partner anymore. Pawar’s party is keen on contesting half of the 288 assembly seats in Maharashtra.
“144 seats or we can contest alone too,” said Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who is NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s nephew, recently.
The Congress believes that is a preposterous demand and Mr. Chavan’s riposte is meant to be a serious warning.
Talks held in Mumbai late last night ended in both parties sticking to their respective stands.
Asked to respond on Mr. Chavan’s latest salvo, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “It is for the Congress to decide what they want to do. We are clear that the Congress is weak just now and if they contest 174 seats, then it will be to the BJP-Shiv Sena’s advantage. Do they want that?”
The NCP had recently set a deadline of one week for its alliance partner to finalise the seat-sharing formula.
Announcing the party’s decision, NCP state president Sunil Tatkare said that the entire process should be completed before the code of conduct is announced in the state. Leaders of Congress and NCP had met for the first time, after the humiliating Lok Sabha defeat, to discuss the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly polls.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, state Congress president Manikrao Thakare and AICC general secretary Mohan Prakash, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, state NCP president Sunil Tatkare and senior NCP leader Praful Patel were present at the meeting which continued till late Wednesday night.