Cong-NCP alliance for Mumbai civic polls sealed

After days of negotiations, Congress and NCP finalised the seat-sharing deal for the election to the Mumbai municipal corporation.

Mumbai: After days of negotiations, Congress
and NCP today finalised the seat-sharing deal for the next
month`s election to the Mumbai municipal corporation.

NCP would contest 58 seats, while Congress would fight on
the remaining 169 seats, Maharashtra Congress chief Manikrao
Thakre said after a meeting of leaders from both the parties
at Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan`s residence here.

Chavan was reportedly keen to forge the alliance as it
would not be possible for Congress alone to unseat the Shiv
Sena-BJP combine, which is in power in Mumbai corporation for
the last 15 years.
At the time of the last election in 2007, the seat-
sharing talks between NCP and Congress, allies at both the
state and Centre, had failed at the last moment.

Chavan termed conclusion of talks today as "historic".
"Time is up for communal forces," he said, referring to
Sena-BJP combine.
"It was the desire of political leadership of both the
parties to end the misrule of Sena-BJP. There was pressure
from people to end the misrule of Sena-led alliance in Mumbai.
People are fed up with the corruption and misrule," he said.

With the ruling partners in Maharashtra agreeing to
contest the Mumbai civic body elections together, secular
forces would be strengthened, Chavan said.

Both parties would retain the seats where they had won
last time. The remaining would be allotted through mutual
agreement, he said.

NCP leader and State PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal said
decision on which seat should go to which party had been taken
to "80 per cent" extent.

Madhukar Pichad of NCP said after tonight`s meeting, the
Chief Minister spoke to NCP president Sharad Pawar.

"We were seeking 65 seats but Pawar told us number was
not important, winning was; and Congress was a senior partner
in the state coalition," he told reporters here.

Talks took a long time to conclude as NCP had initially
asked for 65 seats, while Congress was not ready to concede
more than 45-50.