In what may entail a major setback for the Congress' hopes to form a winning alliance in Maharashtra, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief, Sharad Pawar, has demanded to contest 50% of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state from the Congress for the 2019 general elections. According to sources, Sharad Pawar put forth this demand during his meeting with Congress president Rahul Gandhi on October 11. Pawar is said to have cited the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in which the Congress contested 27 seats while the NCP contested the remaining 21 seats in Maharashtra, out of which NCP won four and Congress managed to win only two seats as the BJP-Shiv Sena combine emerged victorious with BJP's Devendra Fadnavis being installed as Chief Minister.
Following the NCP's demand, Republic TV has learnt that in an unexpected turn of events, the Congress has refused to comply. However, in spite of prevailing differences in seat-sharing, sources at the two parties have stated that the alliance between them is bound to happen.
In September, the Congress and the NCP had drawn out a plan to form a grand alliance, including 8-10 smaller parties, against the ruling BJP and Shiv Sena ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the subsequent state assembly polls.
“We are the big brother in Maharashtra. In the last election, the seat-sharing formula was 27-21, this time also we want to go with the same formula,” said a Congress source.
“We are positive about an alliance with Congress. Talks for seat sharing within the alliance is in the initial stage right now. Currently, both the parties are discussing the winnable candidates for each seat,” said NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik, meanwhile.
This tussle had come days after NCP chief Sharad Pawar declared that he will not contest in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. While he plans to give an opportunity to the young blood in the party, Pawar is working hard to get back power in Maharashtra and establish a prominent role for the NCP at the Centre.