Against the backdrop of deadlock on seat-sharing among the two major alliances in Maharashtra, senior NCP leader and minister Chhagan Bhujbal on Friday said all political parties in the state should contest the next month's assembly polls separately to test their individual strength.
NCP ally Congress sought to make light of Bhujbal's statement, saying NCP chief Sharad Pawar is keen on continuing the tie-up between the two parties, who are ruling the State since 1999.
Despite the polls being less than a month away, there is stalemate in the seat-sharing talks in the ruling Congress- NCP as well opposition Sena-BJP coalitions.
The impasse is mainly due to BJP and NCP, both junior partners in their respective alliances, demanding more seats this time than what they fought in 2009.
Bhujbal said since a solution is eluding both camps on pre-poll pact and all the four major political parties are claiming to be in "strong" position, they should contest the October 15 assembly elections on their own.
"Everyone should contest the polls independently so as to gauge their strength in state politics."
Replying to questions, Bhujbal said the bickering in the saffron camp is of no consequence to the Congress-NCP.
Bhujbal asserted that his party was stronger than Congress in the State, where the NCP won four Lok Sabha seats this year, while the latter could manage just two.
Asked if both ruling and Opposition blocs were delaying their poll pacts due to the ongoing "pitru paksha" (considered an inauspicious period to take any important decision), the NCP leader said he was not aware of any such thing.
"What is pitru paksha...I know only Shiv Sena paksh (Marathi for party), BJP paksh, Congress paksh and Rashtravadi (NCP) paksh."
Asked about Bhujbal's comment on all outfits going solo, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said his party Congress is in talks with Pawar, who is keen on continuation of the alliance.
Chavan said developments in the Sena-BJP camp will have no impact on the Congress-NCP ties. "Ours will be a standalone decision and not impacted by what happens in the Sena-BJP combine," he said.