The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, which has been ruling the Mumbai civic body, will face a direct challenge as the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) worked out a seat-sharing formula for the February 16 Mumbai civic polls and announced their alliance late on Tuesday.
Of the 227 seats, the Congress will contest 169, while the NCP will get 58 seats. "This is a historic decision. The common man is fed up with the misrule of the Sena-BJP [alliance] in the past 17 years. We hope to defeat the communal forces," said Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan, after the meeting between the allies concluded.
This is the first time the Congress and NCP will contest the civic polls together. In 2007, plans of an alliance were dropped as both parties could not agree on a seat-sharing formula.
Chavan, who took the initiative to forge the alliance, said: "There was tremendous pressure on us as well as our allies to forge an alliance. People and our elected representatives wanted this alliance to happen."
While the two parties will retain the seats they won in the 2007 civic polls, in most cases they will also retain seats in which their candidates came second.
The NCP seemed satisfied with its share of the deal. "We were keen on 65 seats, but when we are working together, there is always give and take. The larger concern for us is to wrest the Mumbai civic body from the saffron combine," said Chhagan Bhubjal, senior NCP leader and public works minister.
It will now be a three-way fight in Mumbai between the Sena-BJP alliance, the Congress-NCP alliance and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. The saffron combine lost badly when a similar fight took place in the city during the 2009 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.