A day after Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar asked senior coalition partner, the Congress, to speed-up seat-sharing talks for the Mumbai municipal polls, due next month, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Monday downplayed the "ultimatum" given by the Union agriculture minister.
Chavan told the media in Mumbai that it was in the interest of both the parties that the seat-sharing talks conclude at the earliest so that the "communal forces" ruling the country's richest civic body are defeated.
Chavan, who returned from Delhi where he apprised the party leadership on the progress of the talks, said 2007 experience of the seat sharing was bad for both Congress and NCP.
"Talks continued till the eve of filing of nominations and broke down over some differences. We had little time to prepare. This time the process of filing of nominations will begin on January 31," he said.
"There is unanimity within Congress that there should be an alliance (with NCP). The ball is now in NCP's court," the chief minister said.
Chavan had on Sunday said that he held the district wise deliberations with Mumbai unit leaders, office-bearers and elected representatives on the issue.
"We have arrived at some conclusions and are ready to talk to NCP on Tuesday," he said.
Indicating that Congress will not accept NCP's demand for 65 seats, Chavan said the seat-sharing formula for the 2007 polls was decided as per the outcome of 2002 elections and the 2007 results should be the criteria for 2012 election talks.