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Cong, NCP fail to form alliance

January 13, 2007 23:49 IST
In a development that would bring cheer to the Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party camp, the Congress and NCP have failed in negotiations to form an alliance for civic polls in nine of the ten municipal corporations in the state, including Mumbai.

Blaming the Congress for its "adamant" attitude, NCP chief spokesperson Madan Bafna said except for Akola, the two parties would go it alone in the remaining nine municipal corporation polls.

In the crucial Mumbai civic polls, the NCP would contest all 227 seats on its own, city chief Sachin Ahir said, "Congress refused to acknowledge that NCP's strength had increased in the city since the last elections."

"We wanted an alliance with the Congress to keep out the Sena and BJP, and we were ready to sacrifice for the secular cause but the Congress refused to reciprocate," Ahir said.

The Congress termed the decision as "arbitrary" and "unfortunate", with party spokesperson Sanjay Nirupam saying, "We have not even been informed of the decision. If it is true then it is unfortunate because it gives an edge to the Sena and the BJP, which is bad news for the secular cause."

The two parties, who are partners in the DF government in Maharashtra as well as in the UPA government at the Centre failed to reach an agreement on seat sharing.

The two parties will contest polls to the Ulhasnagar, Pune, Thane, Mumbai, Nasik, Solapur, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Nagpur, and Amravati municipal corporations on their own strength, Bafna said.

Today's development will lend an edge to the Sena BJP combine, especially in the Mumbai polls, where parties like the Republican Party of India and Samajwadi party have come together to form a Third Front, thus cutting into the anti-saffron vote.

Break-down of seat-sharing talks in Mumbai came at the last moment as Congress and NCP had even worked out the number of seats to be alloted to each party.

According to the settlement, arrived at two days ago, Congress had got 162 seats whereas NCP had got 65 seats.

But when it came to ward-to-ward allottment, the talks failed.

Ahir alleged that it was over allotment of four or five wards that the negotiations broke down. "We had come down from our initial demand of 75 seats, but in a few wards, where we had sitting corporators, Congress demanded that we give up our claim," he said.

NCP leader Nawab Malik alleged that a faction in Congress that was opposed to current Mumbai congress Chief Gurudas Kamat did not want the talks to succeed.

Shiv Sena and BJP have already announced their alliance for the Mumbai polls. The only spoilsport for the Sena could be Raj Thackeray led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, which is expected to eat into traditional Sena bastions.

Polls to the all ten municipal corporations would be held on February 1.

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