Stalemate over Cong-NCP alliance continues

The stalemate between the Congress and the NCP over an alliance for Mumbai municipal polls continues with the NCP firm on its demand for 65 seats.

Updated: Jan 07, 2012, 21:01 PM IST

Mumbai: The stalemate between the Congress
party and the NCP over an alliance for the Mumbai municipal
polls slated for next month continues with the NCP refusing to
budge from its demand for 65 seats.

Talks over the past few days to evolve a workable formula
for pre-poll alliance have ended in a stalemate, sources said.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Industries Minister
Narayan Rane are eager for an alliance with NCP to wrest the
premier civic body from the Sena-BJP control and are said to
be willing to concede the NCP demand. However, other senior
party leaders from Mumbai have strongly opposed more space to
the NCP.

Senior Congress leader and former union minister Gurudas
Kamat has shot off a letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi
opposing the very idea of having 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.
He also demanded that the city unit chief Kripashankar
Singh convene a MRCC executive committee meeting to discuss
the issue of alliance.

Congress has said that it would contest 170 seats and
leave 34 for the NCP. The latter, however, wants 65 seats.
Congress had won 71 seats in 2007 election and finished
second in 99 wards. NCP had won 14 seats and finishing second
in 17 wards.

Sharad Pawar-led party has argued that in 2007,
Congress had agreed to cede 65 seats before the talks broke
down, and this time NCP should get at least 65 seats.
Congress has said that it was willing to give only
those seats to NCP where it had lost by more than 8000 votes
in 2007.

Opinion of all MPs and MLAs is being sought on the
issue, Congress sources said adding the talks are likely to
drag on for few more days.

When contacted, NCP Mumbai president Narendra Verma
said, "Talks were on and progressing in right direction.
Myself and Kripashankar Singh held a marathon meeting and
discussed several seats. I am confident the issue will be
resolved soon."

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, state
Congress president Manikrao Thakre and Mumbai unit chief
Kripashankar Singh met this afternoon to discuss the overall
strategy and preparations for the 10 municipal corporations
and 27 zilla parishad elections.