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SHARAD PAWAR WAITS FOR CONG GO AHEAD ON SEATS

The prospects of a pre-poll alliance between the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party brightened with the Congress offering 115 of the 288 seats to the NCP. The NCP had contested 124 seats in 2004. Indications are that NCP Chief Sharad Pawar may settle for anything between 115 to 124 seats. The poll is scheduled for October 13 and filing of nomination will start on September 18. Since there is not much time, both the parties may work out a compromise formula this week after a meeting between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar in Delhi. Since there was no signal from the Congress all these days, Sharad Pawar had started assessing the situation in all 288 assembly seats in the event of the party being forced to go it alone. But the Congress has reportedly conveyed to Sharad Pawar the number of seats it is willing to concede to him. The seat-sharing talks got derailed by the sudden death of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YSR Reddy in a helicopter crash. The NCP, which failed to retain its seats in the Lok Sabha elections, is keeping a low profile. Sharad Pawar held closed-door consultations with senior NCP leaders. The NCP knows that it will suffer more this time if the Congress decides to go on its own. The situation in the Congress camp is also not very encouraging. The MPCC has decided not to call for applications from aspirants for party tickets but take a final decision on the basis of reports filed by MPCC observers. According to party sources, the Congress high command will call on Ashok Chavan and Manicrao Thakare before taking a final decision on seat-sharing. Bureau report – NMTV News.

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