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Congress bargains hard with NCP, SP
Published on 4 Mar. 2009 1:16 AM IST
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With a little more than a month left for India’s biggest general elections, the Indian political league has well and truly begun. And one major political party that is still struggling to come up with a winning combination of alliances is the Congress. The party is locked in hard bargaining with Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which is flexing its muscles demanding more than what the Congress is willing to give. Congress and NCP leaders led by Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel were in a huddle till late Monday night - during the third round of seat-sharing talks. But there were no announcements after the meeting held at the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s residence. Another round of talks will take place later on Tuesday, at the residence of deputy chief minister and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal. NCP chief Sharad Pawar has already spelled out his demand for 50 per cent of the Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra. Another alliance that the Congress is trying to firm up is with the Samajwadi Party. The two sides have been locked in talks for a long time but a deal is still eluding them. That’s because the Samajwadi Party is not willing to give the Congress the 25 seats it wants to contest in Uttar Pradesh. The SP is willing to give only 17. But the one big reason that might eventually get them to come to an agreement is the need to offset Mayawati.

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