Congress-NCP finalise seat pact in Maharashtra

After six months of painstaking talks, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Saturday unveiled a seat-sharing pact for Maharashtra under which the former will contest 26 Lok Sabha seats and the latter 22 and allot two seats each from their quotas to smaller allies.

They announced a “United Progressive Grand Alliance” in the state to take on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena combine; the alliance will comprise the Congress, NCP, nine prominent and smaller parties, and several small groups. Of them, only five will have candidates in the fray.

The announcement was made by state Congress chief Ashok Chavan and his NCP counterpart Jayant Patil. The two said 56 parties and organisations had come together to support the alliance.

Patil said the parties joined forces to “save democracy, protect the Constitution” and expose BJP’s “hypocrisy and lies”.

Of the four seats that Congress and NCP will offer allies, two will go to Raju Shetti’s Swabhimani Paksha and one seat each to Hitendra Thakur’s Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) and Ravi Rana’s Yuva Swabhimani Paksha.

From its share, the Congress will give Palghar to the BVA and another, as yet unidentified, seat to Swabhimani Paksha. The NCP will leave the Hatkanangle seat for Shetti and give another to Yuva Swabhiman Paksha.

Peasants and Workers Party (PWP), Janata Dal (Secular), Rajendra Gavai’s Republican Party of India (RPI), Jogendra Kawade’s Peoples Republican Party (PRP) and others will not be contesting the polls.

The Congress and NCP, however, failed to take along Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP), Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) in their coalition. A similar combination was formed by Prakash Ambedkar with Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and other small groups to form the VBA, which has fielded 37 candidates so far.

Senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar said that the alliance partners tried best to take all opposition parties along but “…I am now of the view that those who have not joined us, are going to contest as a B-team of the BJP”.

Political analyst Prakash Bal said the parties that had joined the Congress-NCP alliance have a marginal presence. “… The direct fight is only between BJP-Shiv Sena and Congress-NCP.”

JV Pawar, spokesperson for Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh, said most of the parties that joined Congress-NCP alliance had always been pro-Congress and had no influence in the state.

First Published:
Mar 23, 2019 22:26 IST

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