Cong’s cool response worries NCP

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The NCP feels the delay in coming to the decision on the proposal could be a Congress tactic to bargain hard.

Mumbai: The top leadership of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is perturbed by the Congress’ alleged cool response to its alliance proposal. The state Congress leadership has maintained that its waiting for a nod from its high command on the alliance proposal. But NCP’s top leadership apparently learnt from the senior Congress leaders in Delhi that they are yet to receive a reply from the Maharashtra Congress on the alliance proposal.

The NCP feels the delay in coming to  the decision on the proposal could be a  Congress tactic to bargain hard.

So far there have been two meetings between the Congress and NCP leaders in the state regarding an alliance. NCP’s state president is learned to have proposed an alliance in the first meeting itself. But state Congress leaders conveyed to the NCP leaders that they need to get clearance from the high command.  In the second meeting, both parties discussed an alliance in the immediate council and Lok Sabha bypolls.

The NCP leadership is trying to create broader alliance by getting smaller parties like Raju Shetti’s SSS, Jayant Patil’s PWP and smaller Republican parties on board. But it fears that the Congress’ delayed response could disturb these smaller parties and it would go against Congress-NCP’s interests.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has already started talks of an alliance with the Shiv Sena even after Uddhav Thackeray announced their decision of going solo. The state BJP leadership is actively supporting all those leaders who are likely to keep their distance from the Congress and NCP. In such case, we need to seal the deal as early as possible. But delay in Congress’s response is a serious concern,” said a senior NCP MLA on condition of anonymity.

The real hurdle in the Cong-NCP alliance is likely to be over the number of Lok Sabha and assembly seats for both parties.

Though no number has been floated by either side till now, the Congress believes that the NCP would demand half seats this time. In the 2014 assembly elections, both parties had fought independently and the Congress had won 43 and the NCP 42 assembly seats. In Lok Sabha elections, both parties were in alliance with the NCP winning four and Congress two.

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