For the first time since it was formed ten years ago, the Nationalist Congress Party will join hands with the Congress for the forthcoming Navi Mumbai municipal polls.
The parties will also contest the Aurangabad municipal polls together.
Civic elections in both places will be held on April 11.
The ruling parties have come together for the first time in Navi Mumbai, which has been an NCP bastion because of the dominance of senior leader and excise minister, Ganesh Naik.
State Congress spokesperson, Husain Dalwai, and state NCP spokesperson, Madan Bafna, confirmed the pact. “Senior Congress and NCP leaders will finalise the sharing of seats in consultation with local leaders,” said Dalwai.
Bafana said the NCP would contest the two Legislative Council seats to be elected by local body representatives in Raigad and Nanded districts. Dalwai said that the Congress would support the ally.
These civic polls will be the first elections since the October Assembly elections in which the ruling Congress-NCP alliance defeated the Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party for the third time.
It makes sense for the Congress, which has a marginal base in Navi Mumbai, to tie up with the NCP to avoid further damage to its base.
The allies also wanted to ensure the saffron combine, especially the Shiv Sena, does not benefit from the division of votes.
The saffron combine was hoping to arrive at an understanding with the Congress, but that formula does not seem to have worked out.
The alliance will continue for the municipal council elections in Badlapur and Ambernath in Thane district and for elections to local self government bodies in Konkan and Nanded.
These polls will also be held in April.
The civic polls will also show whether the saffron combine manages to retain its influence in urban pockets or loses it because of spoilers like the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.
In Aurangabad, the Sena has been enjoying an upper hand for more than two decades.
The Congress and NCP have their pockets in the city but have not been able to upstage the Sena.
This time, however, the Congress is confident of dethroning the Sena.
A senior Congress leader hoped that the alliance will remain in place for the Mumbai and Thane municipal polls to be held next year.
The Congress and NCP contested indepedent in the 2007 Mumbai civic polls, and lost to the Sena by a small margin.