Maharashtra's two major alliances woo smaller outfits
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Maharashtra's two major alliances woo smaller outfits

Tuesday, 27 January 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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MUMBAI: With political parties in Maharashtra coming under two broad coalitions to fight the forthcoming parliamentary elections, the battle is on to woo the smaller parties in the state.

The ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance has almost finalised a deal on contesting the elections together and is now working hard to get smaller parties into their coalition.

According to sources, efforts are on to woo outfits like the Peasants and Workers Party, Bahujan Mahasangh, Janata Dal (S), the Republican Party of India, Gondwana People's party and other small parties that can contribute precious votes in a tightly contested election.

Congress and NCP sources are optimistic these parties will join them since they are already part of the ruling coalition. Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde's government depends on these small parties to stay in office.

The break up of the smaller parties in the legislature is: PWP five, Bahujan Mahasang three, Janata Dal (S) and CPI (M) two each, Republican Party of India, Virar Vikas Manch, Gondwana People's Party and Native People's Party one each. Six independents also support the government.

The ruling coalition enjoys a wafer-thin majority in the 288-member assembly. Shinde's predecessor Vilasrao Deshmukh survived a confidence vote after seven defectors from the NCP were disqualified more than a year ago.

According to political observers, the smaller parties can affect the fortunes of the Congress and NCP in more than 100 seats in Maharashtra.

Should they contest separately or as part of a third front, the small parties can eat away into the vote share of the two big parties, thereby benefiting the opposition Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance, it is felt.

The ruling coalition faces a tough battle following a surge in popular support for the Shiv Sena and the BJP at the national level, analysts said.

This has prompted the Congress and the NCP, a junior party in the government to sink their differences and fight the battle together.

The Congress won 74 seats against the NCP's 61 in the 1999 poll.
Source: IANS
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