Union Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar on Sunday gave an ultimatum to the Congress in Maharashtra to firm up an alliance and seat-sharing process for the upcoming Mumbai Corporation elections, within two days.
In the absence of a decision, party workers should gear themselves up and start campaigning, he said.
“The Congress is a bigger, older party, but they cannot keep us waiting till the last moment. Their leadership should think seriously about Mumbai. In the last civic body polls too, seat-sharing discussions dragged on till the end,” Mr. Pawar told party workers at a meeting here.
Mr. Pawar's deadline comes as the two alliance partners are in the thick of inconclusive discussions. The impasse is over the NCP's demand for 65 seats of the 227 seats in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
In the last BMC elections, the two parties broke their alliance after a dispute over one seat.
Mr. Pawar defended the NCP's demand as the party had “one MP more” than the tally in the last Lok Sabha elections. He also warned against “dynasty politics” for poll ticket.
The Congress and the NCP are slated to meet for further talks by Monday. The Congress too had an internal party meeting with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Sunday.
Congress spokesperson Sanjay Dutt told The Hindu on the phone that Mr. Chavan was “very keen” on forming an alliance of secular parties to beat the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
“We respect Mr. Pawar. He is a senior leader and NCP president. He is competent to set a timeline. The Congress is working in that direction. Each party has a system. The Chief Minister and senior leaders will talk with the NCP leadership. We are hopeful something positive will emerge. There should be an alliance, but on reasonable terms,” Mr. Dutt said.
The Congress is hoping to strike a middle ground and has hinted at giving 50 to 55 seats to the NCP.