Ally trouble for Congress ahead of state Assembly polls

After the Lok Sabha poll debacle, Congress allies — Nationalist Congress Party and National Conference — are needling the Grand Old Party in a bid to drive hard bargain in seat sharing ahead of state assembly elections later this year.

The Congress and the NCP have been running a coalition government in Maharashtra since 1999, while in Jammu and Kashmir, it had supported the National Conference to form the government after the 2008 election threw up a hung Assembly. 

With Congress reduced to just two seats in Maharashtra and the NCP emerging victorious on four, NCP chief Sharad Pawar has demanded a revision of the seat sharing formula in the state. Citing increased numbers in the Lok Sabha, Pawar said his party should get to contest more number of seats in the Assembly elections scheduled for September-October than in 2009.

In 2009, the Congress had contested 174 seats and left 114 for the NCP. Pawar said he would discuss the issue with the Congress leadership in Delhi while making it clear that the alliance would continue. The Congress had won 82 and the NCP 62. However, Congress leaders in Delhi view the NCP chief’s remarks as pressure tactics ahead of the elections.

The Congress-National Conference alliance in Jammu and Kashmir has soured after both the parties were wiped out from the state in the recent Lok Sabha elections. A blame game has begun with both sides blaming each other for the debacle.

The Peoples’ Democratic Party won three seats in the valley while the three seats in Jammu division went to the BJP.

NC believes the anti-Congress sentiment witnessed during the Lok Sabha elections may affect its prospects in the state. On the other hand a section of the Congress feels that it may stand to lose due to the unpopularity of the Abdullah government.

The Congress and the NC could contest the elections separately and consider joining hands later if they are in a position to form the government.

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