Tough negotiations are on the cards between the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) over seat-sharing in the coming Maharashtra Assembly elections as the first round of formal talks between the two parties got under way on Tuesday night in Mumbai.
Sources in the Congress said the party was willing to concede 109 to 115 seats to the NCP, which had contested 122 seats in 2004.
The talks signalled a willingness by the two parties to sew up an alliance, but the Congress appeared reluctant in the face of the NCP’s pleas for early sealing of a pact even at the cost of some seats for itself.
The Congress is in the driver’s seat in the State in the wake of its good showing in the last Lok Sabha polls. It won 17 of the 26 seats it contested. In the case of the NCP, it secured only 8 of the 22 seats it fought.
The sources indicated the negotiations may take two three days and the two sides were unlikely to reach an agreement on all the 288 Assembly seats in one go.
“We are partners. There is no question of playing a big brother. Moreover, NCP chief Sharad Pawar is a gentle as well as a sensible leader who understands the situation,” a senior Congress leader said.