Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday further contributed to the suspense on the fate of her party’s alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party for the Maharashtra Assembly polls by remaining silent on the issue at a party meeting in Mumbai.

However, in Delhi, party leaders kept the alliance option alive with Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi telling the media that the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance — “wherever applicable” — is gearing up for Assembly elections.

At the same time, he said the question mark on the alliance would continue till a formal announcement was made even as time is ticking away for nominations which open on September 18. Till now, there has been no formal interface between the two parties although both sides are understood to have informally exchanged lists of seats each wants to contest.

The Congress has from the beginning maintained that the changed ground realities after delimitation should be the basis for any seat-sharing arrangement. Under the changed circumstances, the Congress says it has a rightful claim to 177 to 179 seats and the NCP 109 to 111 seats. In 2004, the Congress had contested 164 seats and the NCP 124.

According to the Congress, it has a right to claim 26 new seats because of delimitation.

“At the same time, we are admitting that 17 of our seats have become non-existent.” And, by the same measure, the NCP gets seven new seats while losing 16 of its existing segments. Coupled with seat adjustments for respective allies, the Congress total comes to 179 and the NCP tally stands at 109.

And if the Lok Sabha election results are used as a basis, then the Congress calculation is that it has an advantage in 177 seats and the NCP in 111.

Rejecting the NCP’s contention that the Congress polled only 40,000 votes more than it did, a Congress leader shot back: “When an election is fought in an alliance, no one party can claim that all the votes polled by its candidate are its vote. Some of our votes went for the NCP and vice versa.”

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