Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan left for Delhi on Sunday evening to meet the Congress top brass and arrive at a decision on having an alliance and determining the seat-sharing formula with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Activities gained momentum after NCP chief Sharad Pawar issued an ultimatum to the Congress, asking it to make up its mind by Monday evening.
Chavan is expected to meet senior leader Mohan Prakash, who is in charge of Maharashtra affairs, before taking the final call. Earlier during the evening, Chavan met with all city party leaders.
Party sources said the Congress is keen on an alliance with the NCP for the Mumbai civic polls, but is unwilling to offer more than 50 to 55 seats. The NCP wants 65 seats.
Negotiations were put on hold after former Union minister Gurudas Kamat sent a letter to Sonia Gandhi two days ago, saying an alliance with the NCP was not needed, given it has no presence in the city.
Kamat said that since the NCP had decided to go solo in its strongholds - Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad – the Congress should ignore it in Mumbai. He is said to have complained that the city leaders’ opinions were not being taken seriously.
Chavan, who is keen on an alliance, then called an internal meeting to discuss the issue.
“This is an internal tussle between Kamat and city chief Kripashankar Singh. It should not jeopardise the Congress’ chances in the polls,” said a Congress leader. “But there is uncertainty about the alliance. If the NCP agrees to contesting 50 seats, we will go together.”
Sources said Chavan asked Kamat to explain how the city unit in 2007, under his helm, offered the NCP 65 seats. Kamat and his supporters met Chavan on Sunday and explained that the 65 seats had been conceded on the basis of the 2002 polls, in which the NCP won 10 seats but was in second position in more than 50 seats. In the 2007 polls, the NCP won 14 seats, but was in second position in only 20 wards.