"Praful Patel has not given ultimatum to Congress" says NCP chief Sharad Pawar

After days of rising strain in the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance in Maharashtra, NCP chief Sharad Pawar tried to put matters to rest on Sunday by clarifying that their seat-sharing arrangement would be finalised in the next 10 days.

“Seat-sharing with the INC is to be resolved in the next 10 days. Talks are on in a cordial manner. Union Minister Praful Patel has not given any ultimatum to the Congress,” Mr. Pawar tweeted.

However, at a press conference in Kolhapur later in the day, Mr. Pawar kept the Congress guessing by supporting Mr. Patel’s defence of an Ahmedabad court’s clean chit to BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in the 2002 Gulbarg Society case. Differences between the allies surfaced with Mr. Patel’s comment earlier this week. Then a report in a Marathi newspaper of a “secret meeting” between Mr. Pawar and Mr. Modi created even more uncertainty.

On Friday, the NCP openly attacked the Congress for delaying the tie-up in Maharashtra. Mr. Patel said: “All options are open for all political parties. We made it clear we wanted to continue the alliance but the Congress is not progressing on this.”

The Congress contested 26 seats and the NCP 22 from Maharashtra in the last Lok Sabha polls, with the Congress winning twice as many seats as the NCP. This year, State Congress leaders are demanding three more.