Oppn grand alliance to be a reality in M'rashtra

Congress leader Ashok Chavan. PTI

A day after the NDA finalised seat-sharing in Bihar, a few Opposition parties in Maharashtra are gearing up to form a 'mahaghatbandhan' (grand alliance) in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Top Congress and NCP leaders confirmed on Monday that a broad consensus has emerged on most of the seats— the formation of a grand alliance is in the final stages.

"We have held discussions on seat sharing. The alliance is being firmed up," NCP president Sharad Pawar said.

"We are working on it (the grand alliance). We had several meetings. We would be having a few more. In a few days, it would be final," senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said.

Apart from the Congress and the NCP, the 'mahaghatbandhan' includes Peseants' & Workers Party and Hitendra Thakur-led Bahujan Vikas Aghadi.

From a numerical perspective, Maharashtra, too, is a crucial state. It send 48 MPs to Lok Sabha, next only to Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80.

Chavan also said that talks with Prakash Ambedkar, the founder of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, are underway. "We want that they (Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh) should be with us," he said.

But the stumbling block is Prakash's alliance with Owaisi-brothers' led AIMIM.

It is to be noted that AIMIM had allied with K Chandrasekhar Rao-led TRS in the recent Telangana elections, where the TRS had positioned itself against the Congress.

Sources in the Congress and the NCP said that the meetings held so far between the two Democratic Front partners— which ran the state for 15 years from 1999 to 2014— have been broad based.

During the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress had fielded its candidates in 27 constituencies in Maharashtra, while the NCP had contested in 21 seats.

Earlier, the seat sharing was fixed at 26:22, but later the NCP decided not to contest from the Hatkanangale constituency as it did not have any contender.

This seat was later contested by the Congress.

The alliance broke ahead of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly polls.

The Congress and the NCP leaders are also talking to various splinter groups and smaller parties as the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly polls are also scheduled in October next year.

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