After days of flexing its muscles, the Congress is close to getting what it wanted. It has virtually made its ally, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), settle for fewer constituencies in the seat-sharing talks before the Assembly elections in Maharashtra. Party sources have refused to confirm any seat-sharing formula but unofficially the NCP has been offered 114 seats as opposed to the 124 it contested in 2004. This means the Congress gets the remaining 174 seats.

However, Congress spokesperson Mohan Prakash told The Hindu that the party had never insisted on numbers and said the seats would be shared as per the delimitation of constituencies.

Since Tuesday night the Congress and NCP have been discussing the seats they would share. They had another round of talks on Wednesday morning and continued parleys in the evening after a break. Unconfirmed sources said 200 of the 288 seats were finalised and the remaining were the contentious ones.

Boosted by its unexpected showing in the recent Lok Sabha polls, the Congress which won 17 seats, took a tough stand right from the beginning.

Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Manikrao Thakre had said that after delimitation, the Congress had a claim to about 173 seats leaving the NCP 115. He had been saying that the party had a claim to more seats, keeping ground realities in mind.