Leaders of both the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) were expecting some solution to the seat-sharing impasse after Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan returned from Delhi on Monday afternoon, after meeting the party top brass. However, Chavan has not given a clear indication of what should be done, and leaders are struggling to find an acceptable solution.
Speaking at a party function in the city, Chavan said the NCP should base its demand on the 2007 poll results instead of talks before the 2007 polls for which they contested separately. Based on 2007, the NCP's stake is 34 seats - 31 less than what it wants.
A senior NCP leader said: "The Congress should not ignore the fact that in the past five years, we have got one MP elected in the city and have five MLCs in Legislative Council. This increases our strength in the city." He admitted that the NCP may come down to 55 to 60 seats if it got the seats demanded.
Congress sources said Chavan, state unit president Manikrao Thakre and city unit president Kripashankar Singh want the alliance. Though MP Gurudas Kamat is opposed to it, city MPs such as Sanjay Nirupam and Eknath Gaikwad are backing Chavan.
"In a multi-corner contest, where even a few hundred votes can tilt the balance, the NCP contesting separately will seal the fate of many of our candidates. They may not win many seats but there are lots of wards where they will walk away with 500 to 1,000 votes. This will benefit the Sena-BJP alliance," said a Congress MP.
Chhagan Bhujbal, NCP leader and public works minister, said: "I strongly feel that we should go for an alliance because BMC is the crux of the Sena's power and we could wrest it out of their control if we go together."