The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has given its ruling ally in the state, the Congress, time till tomorrow evening to decide on an alliance for the election to the Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), slated for February 16.
NCP set the deadline at a meeting chaired here on Sunday by Sharad Pawar, party chief and Union agriculture minister.
A section of the Congress has pitched for a solo fight. NCP did not ally with the Congress in the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad civic body elections. The party was dallying about making its position clear to the NCP on this metropolis. And, veteran MP and former head of the party in the city, Gurudas Kamat, had openly lobbied for not having an alliance, writing to national president Sonia Gandhi of a rebellion in the ranks if one succumbed to NCP’s pressure tactics. NCP has stuck to a demand for 65 seats in the 227-member BMC and the Congress is not ready for this.
State NCP chief Madhukarrao Pichad told Business Standard: “NCP has given a deadline to the Congress to take a final call by Monday evening. If the Congress is unable to strike an electoral pact, NCP will fight all 227 seats on its own.”
An NCP minister, present at on Sunday’s meeting, recalled that the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP alliance retained power in the civic body polls in 2007 after the Congress turned down NCP’s proposal for an alliance. “If the Congress is really serious in removing the saffron alliance, it cannot remain too rigid,” he said.
A Congress legislator, who did not want to be named, said except for a few leaders, a large number and the rank and file were in favour of an alliance with NCP. “More important, the party high command has given its go-ahead. A settlement can be reached by offering about 58 seats to NCP,” he added.