Congress, NCP Locked In Hard Bargaining

Mumbai, Sept 5 | Updated: Sep 6 2004, 05:41am hrs
Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are unable to arrive at a consensus over sharing of seats . Both are bargaining hard for 288 Assembly seats.

Congress, which had emerged as the single largest party by securing 74 seats in the 1999 elections, has taken an aggressive posture by staking claim over 170 seats along with its allies. NCP would be left with only 118 seats along with its allies comprising Federation of Republican Party of India.

The state Congress, although in alliance with NCP led by Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar, wants the latter to play second fiddle. It is not keen to leave more than six to nine out of a total 34 seats in Mumbai to NCP.

Congress, which won 12 seats in the last Assembly elections, is buoyed by its victory over five out of six Lok Sabha seats in Mumbai, which till recently was seen as a Shiv Sena bastion. The party is now looking at fielding candidates for at least 25 seats. In such a situation, NCP, will get nine seats along with its allies.