The next few days will be crucial for the Congress and the NCP that have yet to formally announce the continuation of their alliance or enter into seat-sharing talks.
An influential section in the Congress, spearheaded by former Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh, has been urging the party to go it alone in the state as it had done successfully in Uttar Pradesh and unsuccessfully in Bihar.
On a day the Election Commission announced assembly polls dates, Deshmukh reiterated this demand. “I have already conveyed my views to the high command. I am now awaiting their decision.”
The Congress and NCP have been in alliance in Maharashtra for a decade now. Only this time, buoyed by its victory in the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress wants to change the ground rules for seat-sharing so it gets a larger share than the 166 of the 288 seats it contested in 2004. The NCP, on its part, wants the 2004 formula to continue.
“But delimitation has changed the demography of the assembly segments," said Digvijay Singh, part of the four-member team sent by party chief Sonia Gandhi to assess prospects in the state.