The Congress has said it is eager to tie up with Sharad Pawar's party for elections for the country's richest municipal corporation, Mumbai's BMC.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan who runs the state government in collaboration with Mr Pawar's party said both teams will meet tomorrow in an attempt to finalize their partnership. Elections for the BMC are scheduled for February; the corporation is currently governed by the Shiv Sena and the BJP.
Mr Chavan's remarks come after his party rejected this evening's deadline set by Mr Pawar to sign on the dotted line. "We respect Pawar sahab, but he should also understand his party's strength before saying such things," retaliated Manikrao Thakre, who heads the Congress in Maharashtra. "Those who do not want an alliance can go their separate ways," he added.
The dispute lies in the number of seats Mr Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) wants to contest - 65 - many more than it is capable of delivering, according to the Congress, which is willing to part with about 30 constituencies.
Mr Pawar's said at a public function last evening, "Last time there was no agreement until the last minute and both the parties had to pay a price," he said yesterday. "The Congress must take a decision on seat sharing by tomorrow evening."
Some leaders within the Congress believe that Mr Pawar's party has little clout among Mumbai voters - and that it's best for the Congress to make the elections a solo effort. There's also some offence taken to the fact that NCP leader Ajit Pawar had refused to enter into an alliance with the Congress for the municipal elections in 2007 in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, where his party is on a strong wicket.