The Congress on Sunday got down to the task of selecting candidates for the Maharashtra Assembly elections and narrowed down its differences with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) over seat-sharing to two or three seats.

The Central Election Committee (CEC) of the Congress, which includes Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, met in two sessions at the residence of party president Sonia Gandhi and was reported to have cleared 90 of the 174 seats the Congress would contest.

Party sources said that at the first session, the committee gave its nod for nearly half of the seats, but the official list is unlikely to be released over the next two days. The notification for the October 13 elections to the 288-member Assembly was issued on Friday. September 25 is the last day for filing of nominations.

According to reports, the Congress-NCP combine, which has been ruling the State for the past 10 years, has come to an understanding, under which 114 seats will be allocated to the NCP, led by Union Minister Sharad Pawar.

Party sources indicated that the exchange of two or three seats could not be ruled out to sort out the differences.

Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and State Congress chief Manik Rao Thakre were in the national capital for holding talks with NCP leaders and to work with the party leadership to finalise the list of candidates.

Before the CEC took up the case, the party ran it through the screening committee, led by Haryana Minister and senior leader Birender Singh.

The CEC members include Union Ministers A.K. Antony, Pranab Mukherjee and Ambika Soni and Ahmed Patel, political secretary to the Congress president.

Mr. Antony is in charge of the party affairs in Maharashtra.