Maharashtra: Sharad Pawar to finalise candidates for 22 LS seats in Jan meeting

PawarNationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar. (Reuters)

Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar has convened a two-day meeting in Mumbai on January 5 and 6 to discuss the preparations and strategies for the ensuing Lok Sabha polls. The party presumes the Congress will continue the alliance and the 48-22 seat-sharing formula of 2009 will remain unaltered. Swapping of certain seats is, however, possible.

"The party has decided to go ahead with preparations in 22 Lok Sabha constituencies. The formal talks with the Congress for seat-sharing has not begun. But the NCP feels they cannot wait longer," said a senior leader and general secretary of the party.

Pawar will be at the party headquarters for the two days to review the preparations in the wake of new challenges emerging ahead of 2014 elections.

Sources in the NCP said they would have to discuss things and put in place a counter plan to negate Aam Admi Party or Narendra Modi factor.

Sensing the challenges ahead for the NCP, its core committee is also urging Pawar to contest the Lok Sabha elections either from his previous constituency Madha (Solapur district) or Pune. In 2009, Pawar had contested from Madha and won.

According to a senior NCP leader, "Party workers in Pune have urged state leaders to ask the Congress to hand over Pune Lok Sabha seat to NCP. The workers have expressed their desire to see Sharad Pawar contest from Pune."

The Congress has already decided not to field sitting Pune MP Suresh Kalmadi, who was suspended from the party after Commonwealth Games scam and his alleged role in it came to the fore.

"Frankly speaking, Suresh Kalmadi was always our best bet when it came to fielding a candidate for the Pune Lok Sabha seat. But we cannot field Kalmadi now due to the corruption case against him. He is no longer in the party and is free to contest as an independent. In his absence, we have Mohan Joshi (MLC). There is little option as far as a strong candidate is concerned for the seat. The Congress is not averse to swapping Pune seat if it gets a seat in Vidarbha from the NCP quota," said an MPCC office-bearer.

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