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Congress-NCP ties again turn uneasy

Posted on Feb 01 2014 | IANS

Mumbai, Jan 31 : The uneasy ties between the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) - allies in Maharashtra and at the centre - came to the fore again Friday after the latter issued an ultimatum on electoral seat-sharing.

The ultimatum came amid reports that NCP president Sharad Pawar held a "secret" meeting with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s prime ministerial candidate, in New Delhi Jan 17.

However, Pawar dismissed the report as "mischievous and baseless".

His party colleague and cabinet minister Praful Patel, however, issued a warning over the delayed seat-sharing talks, saying "all options are open" for NCP.

"Elections are round the corner and we need clarity on these issues. This (delay) is not a good sign. All options are open," Patel said in Mumbai.

Pawar said he meets chief ministers when he visits states or at conferences in New Delhi.

"Barring these occasions, I never met Modi in the past one year," Pawar said in a tweet.

The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) in Maharashtra has meanwhile said the NCP won't be welcome in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

The party is a constituent of Maharashtra's saffron "Grand Alliance", which also includes the BJP, Shiv Sena and the Republican Party of India of Ramdas Athawale.

Pawar broke away from the Congress in 1999, protesting against Congress president Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin, and launched the NCP.

The Congress and the NCP contest 26 and 22 Lok Sabha seats respectively in Maharashtra.

Barring minor adjustments, the same formula is expected to continue this year too.

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