The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Monday clarified that it had not given an ultimatum to the Congress to finalise seat-sharing for the Mumbai civic polls but said it wanted its United Progressive Alliance (UPA) ally to take an early decision on the issue.
Party leader Tariq Anwar said there was no deadline but also made it clear that the party was prepared to go it alone in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls, if needed.
"It is not a deadline. The sooner an alliance is formed the better it is. It should be formed in time for the polls," Anwar told IANS. He said that in the last BMC elections in 2007, seat sharing talks between the two parties had dragged on till the end and then fizzled out.
"It was a setback for us," Anwar said.
NCP president and union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had Sunday asked the Congress to finalise its plans for an alliance and seat-sharing for the Mumbai civic polls by Monday.
Pawar's ultimatum came even as Congress faced an attack from another ally, the Trinamool Congress, following differences over several issues. Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee had last week thrown an open challenge to partner Congress to walk out of the combine.
Anwar said NCP wanted to contest 65 seats in BMC polls in alliance with the Congress. He said a meeting was expected between the Congress and NCP leaders in Mumbai on Monday to discuss seat sharing.
The announcement of civic polls for Feb 16 virtually heralds the battle for the country's biggest and richest civic corporation with an annual budget of over Rs 21,000 crore.