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Updated: September 17, 2009 13:32 IST

Cong.-NCP seat-sharing deal likely today

IANS
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Congress president Sonia Gandhi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar at a joint Congress-NCP rally during the Lok Sabha polls. File photo
PTI Congress president Sonia Gandhi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar at a joint Congress-NCP rally during the Lok Sabha polls. File photo

The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) agreed in principle to contest the October 13 Maharashtra Assembly elections jointly after the third round of their marathon meetings concluded here on Wednesday night.

The ticklish issue of seat-sharing shall be decided on Thursday in New Delhi where a formal announcement is likely to be made subsequently, according to a Congress party office-bearer.

Senior leaders of both parties have been engaged in hectic rounds of talks since Tuesday to hammer out a mutually acceptable seat-sharing formula.

Though the seat-sharing has yet to be finalised, indications are that the Congress-NCP may agree on contesting 174-114 seats, respectively.

Talks are now focused on the choice of seats that they would contest, the office-bearer said.

Though around 200 of the total 288 seats have been cleared, there are some disputes in the remaining 88 seats, mainly due to the recent delimitation exercise and accommodating the independents supporting both the parties.

The final picture would emerge after State leaders of the two parties discuss various issues with their party leaderships on Thursday, he said.

The Congress-NCP alliance Democratic Front is ruling Maharashtra since 1999 and is hoping to do a hat-trick.

In the 2004 Assembly polls, the Congress contested 157 of the 288 seats and the NCP fought for 127 seats, leaving the rest to their allies. The NCP won 71 seats while the Congress got 69.

In the April-May Lok Sabha elections, the Congress contested 25 of the 48 seats in the State and won 17, while the NCP won only eight of the 21 seats it contested.

Several Congress leaders, including central Heavy Industries Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh have been advocating that the party should go it alone in the Assembly elections.

However, several factors, including the united Third Front and the untested Maharashtra Navnirman Sena of Raj Thackeray, have prompted the Congress and NCP to hammer out an alliance.

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