Congress unfazed by NCP demand, but will try to save alliance

March 2nd, 2009 - 12:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, March 2 (IANS) The Congress is negotiating tricky issues like seat distribution to ensure that old allies like the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) remain with the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), but would not sacrifice the party’s interests, a senior leader said here Monday.
Reacting to the NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s demand for 24 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, state party general secretary Sanjay Nirupam said: “It is their condition and our well known stand is to give them 21 seats.”

“However, negotiations on this issue are continuing and the third round of talks is scheduled this evening. We are hoping for a positive outcome,” he added.

Referring to Pawar’s threats to go it alone in the upcoming general elections if the Congress remains adamant, he said the party would “make all possible efforts” to keep its old allies but not at the cost of the Congress’ interests.

“When we can accommodate Mamata Bannerjee in West Bengal and we are in seat-sharing talks with the Samajwadi Party (SP), we would not like to lose our old allies,” he asserted.

Referring to the NCP demand for a share in the chief minister’s post, Nirupam said this was not the time to discuss assembly elections.

“We will consider that at the appropriate time. Right now, our priority is the Lok Sabha elections,” he said.

On Sunday, at the crucial NCP state-level convention in Nashik, Pawar had urged the Congress to take a lead in declaring national-level pre-poll alliances with its partners.

“As a big party, the Congress should come out with a pre-poll alliance and alliance partners should get a chance to contest the constituencies in which they are strong,” Pawar had said.

He said the NCP was talking to different parties like the AIADMK and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), but no final decision had been taken.

Pawar, however, clarified that the NCP did not want to fight the elections on its own and continued to remain with the Congress-led UPA.

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