The Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance for the civic polls was called off on Saturday, but leaders of both parties were hopeful of a last-minute deal.
With time running out for the alliance — nominations for the February 1 election close at 3 pm on Monday — the onus for a breakthrough is now with the high commands of both parties.
Even as the NCP's Mumbai chief Sachin Ahir announced that his party would go it alone in all 227 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) seats, the NCP pointsman for Maharashtra, Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, said he was hopeful of the alliance continuing.
Speaking at a Rotary Club function, Patel turned to the Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP Eknath Thakur and said: “You may breathe easy for few more days because we haven’t finalised anything yet. Until then, you don’t have to worry.”
However, Mumbai Congress chief Gurudas Kamat didn’t sound too optimistic. “We have had exhaustive talks with the NCP and they haven’t yielded any positive results. The NCP is welcome to go its own way,” he said. But he too didn’t deny the possibility of a last-minute breakthrough. “I’m hoping for the best, but as of now the alliance is off,” he said.
Ahir said the deal failed because the Congress didn’t concede more seats. Kamat disagreed. “In fact, the NCP didn’t give us a seat for our sitting Opposition leader Rajhans Singh. We also wanted Ward 198 from them.”
The Democratic Front partners had reached an agreement on seat sharing earlier by which the NCP would contest 65 seats, while the Congress got 162. But the NCP asked for more. “The Congress has so many more seats; it should adjust all its workers within those numbers. We only wanted a few more seats, but they refused. We sacrificed a lot as we brought our demand down to 65 from 75,” said Ahir.