Sharad Pawar, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief, ticked off the Congress on Sunday, giving it an ultimatum of one day to decide on having an alliance and coming up with a seat-sharing formula for the Mumbai civic polls, scheduled on February 16.
"The Congress is the bigger party, but it can't keep us waiting forever. In the last elections too, negotiations dragged on and were dropped at the last minute. Let them decide by tomorrow (Monday evening)," Pawar said at a meeting with NCP leaders.
Pawar has told his party cadre to start preparations to go solo from Tuesday.
The Congress is locked in internal bickering over whether an alliance with the NCP is justified. It is likely to announce an alliance on Monday.
Responding to some Congress leaders' opinion that the NCP deserves only 34 seats, Pawar said: "Even in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, we were told we don't have a presence in the city. But we got our party MP elected."
Pawar asked party men to "be flexible to accommodate them if they ask for more time but don't wait till the last day".
Senior Congress leader and former union minister Gurudas Kamat has shot off a letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi opposing an alliance with the NCP.
According to him, Congress should have called off alliance talks when deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar declared that NCP would not go for any tie-up with Congress in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, where that party has a strong base.
Kamat questioned the need for alliance with NCP in Mumbai given that the party does not have much of a presence.
Congress has said that it would contest 170 seats and leave 34 for the NCP. The latter, however, wants 65 seats.
Congress won 71 seats in 2007 election and finished second in 99 wards. NCP had won 14 seats and finishing second in 17 wards.
(With PTI inputs)