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Gandhi-Pawar seat-sharing talks ‘inconclusive’: NCP leader

Mumbai | A seat-sharing talks between Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar on Wednesday remained inconclusive as there was no consensus on the eight Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra, a senior NCP leader Thursday said.

According to the leader, who is privy to the talks, Congress general secretary Mallikarjun Kharge and senior NCP leader Praful Patel would hold the next round of talks.

The eight Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra on which the two parties are yet to reach an agreement include Yavatmal, Washim, Buldhana, Nandurbar, Raver and Ahmednagar, he said. Also, a consensus could not be reached whether to swap/share the Ratnagiri Sindhudurg and Pune seats.

Gandhi met Pawar at the latter’s 6 Janpath residence in New Delhi on Wednesday to discuss seat-sharing and other issues ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The NCP leader’s comments come after sources in the Congress claimed that the grand old party and some of its smaller allies would contest the election on 25 of the total 48 constituencies in Maharashtra.

The remaining 23 seats, the Congress sources added, would go to the NCP and some other members of the alliance – being worked out to take on the ruling BJP.

According to the NCP leader, Kharge and Patel would discuss seat-sharing and swapping of eight seats by the two parties and their partners.

“A proposal would then be put up before Gandhi and Pawar for their approval…The Congress and the NCP have already agreed on sharing 20 seats each in the state,” he said.

“Nothing has been decided yet. We are yet to reach a consensus on the remaining eight seats. We will be able to spell out the exact number of seats each of the alliance constituents will contest in a week or so,” the leader added.

“Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil (of the Congress) is keen on fielding his son from Ahmednagar. The NCP, however, isn’t relenting on the seat from its quota,” he added.

Meanwhile, sources in both the parties claimed that a Shiv Sena leader may join their fold to contest the election as the alliance candidate the from Jalna constituency. The claim, however, could not be confirmed by Sena sources.

The Jalna Lok Sabha seat is currently represented by Maharashtra BJP chief Raosaheb Danve.

The Congress and the NCP had suffered a drubbing at the hands of the Narendra Modi-led resurgent BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.

In the last elections, the NCP, formed in 1999, registered its worst performance, winning only four seats Baramati, Satara, Kolhapur and Madha. It added one more seat to its cart after its leader Madhukar Kukde won the Bhandara-Gondia bypoll held in May last year.

The Congress, too, had recorded its lowest Lok Sabha seats tally in the state bagging only two constituencies- Nanded and Hingoli.

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