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Congress To Meet Maharashtra Allies Today After Team Uddhav's 23-Seat Claim

New Delhi: 

Congress leaders will meet their Maharashtra allies in Delhi today as seat-sharing negotiations continue in the Opposition camp to take on the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The meeting comes in the backdrop of former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray's party declaring they'll contest 23 seats in Maharashtra.

His party, which has lost its tag of being the "original" Shiv Sena, is a part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) along with Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress.

The Congress and other regional parties, including AAP, Trinamool, and DMK, had formed the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) last July to put up a united fight in this year's elections. But seat-sharing remains a big challenge as they try to accommodate each other in common electoral spaces.

Mr Thackeray's party had suffered a big setback after Chief Minister Eknath Shinde was awarded the party's name and symbol, but still remains a key force in Maharashtra. His closest aide Sanjay Raut had triggered a row last month by claiming their party would contest 23 out of 48 seats in Maharashtra. But Mr Thackeray later assured his party won't do anything that hurts the alliance.

Meanwhile, the Congress and the AAP, who have been exchanging passive-aggressive words, met yesterday to discuss seat-sharing prospects in Punjab, Delhi and other states. No conclusive announcement was made after the meeting, but they decided to meet again to give a final shape to the arrangement.

Mukul Wasnik and Ashok Gehlot were part of the Congress team while Rajya Sabha MP Sandeep Pathak and Delhi ministers Atishi and Saurabh Bharadwaj attended Monday's meeting on behalf of the AAP.

Mr Waskin said after the meeting that a final discussion on seat sharing will take place after a few days and that the two parties will contest the elections together. "It would not be proper to reveal what transpired during the discussions. One has to wait for some time," he added.

The Congress units in Delhi and Punjab are against any tie-up with the AAP, which is in power in both the states.

The Congress faces a similar challenge in Bengal where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has asserted that her party will go to the polls alone - despite the Trinamool being a key member of the INDIA alliance.

Several other parties within the INDIA alliance have been working to resolve their differences and fight the elections together.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has reached out to his Tamil Nadu counterpart to clarify his remarks on Hindi being the national language at the last INDIA meeting. Mr Kumar had sparked a debate on language by refusing a translation request during a meeting.

source: NDTV

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