NCP’s demand for 144 seats in Maharashtra polls justified: Ajit Pawar

Justifying his demand for equal seat sharing, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Thursday said past mistakes will not be repeated if NCP emerges as the single-largest party, as it did in 2004 Assembly polls.

To a question on whether he would be the chief ministerial candidate, he told that elected MLAs of the party would decide on their leader.

In 2004, NCP emerged as the single-largest party with 71 seats but ceded the chief ministerial post to ally Congress in return for two additional Cabinet and three ministers of state.

Pawar said if NCP gets to form the government it would scrap toll levy and decision making would be faster.

Referring to Congress MLA Prashant Thakur quitting the party to join BJP over the issue of Kharghar toll plaza, Pawar lamented that a young political activist like Prashant quit over this issue.

“40 percent of the state population pass through the Khargar toll to come to Mumbai. I was in favour of the scrapping of the toll but Cidco and MMRDA would need to pay Rs 1,200 cr to the government.. It was not a big deal but chief minister did not agree,” he said.

Pawar said the NCP demand for 144 seats was justified.

“It is a practical demand. Earlier, formulas were worked out on the basis of previous election results. So according to the latest Lok Sabha poll result we deserve equal sharing. There is no headway in Congress-NCP talks so far,” he said.

“Congress has rejected our demand for equal seats. We are hopeful that intervention of Sharad Pawar and Sonia Gandhi will help to resolve the deadlock,” he said.

Meanwhile, NCP state unit chief Sunil Tatkare said that his party was awaiting a proposal from Congress on seat-sharing talks.

Earlier, NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said that so far no official discussion on seat-sharing talks has happened since the first meeting between Sharad Pawar and AK Antony on August 20.

“Praful Patel has held informal discussions with some Congress leaders but nothing concrete has emerged. We are hopeful that the outcome will be positive. We will come to know about the Congress stand after they call us for talks,” he said.