Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar's advice that Raj Thackeray's party Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) must be included in the alliance, has been shot down by the Congress, saying the ideological differences with Mr Thackeray's party would render electoral tie-up unfeasible.
"We have ideological differences with MNS, and any kind of electoral tie-up with it would be difficult," Congress's state chief Ashok Chavan was quoted by the news agency PTI.
Mr Pawar last week expressed his "personal views" that including MNS in the alliance between the Congress and his party would prevent a split in the opposition votes.
"We must bring together all those who find secular ideologies as acceptable if we really want to defeat the Shiv Sena-BJP combine," Ajit Pawar was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India on Tuesday. The MNS, he pointed out, had secured one lakh to one-and-half lakh votes in the past elections in some constituencies.
Maharashtra sends the second highest number of lawmakers to Lok Sabha after Uttar Pradesh. Sources told NDTV that Mr Thackeray's party wanted at least two Lok Sabha seats in the state.
While both NCP and the MNS have nothing to lose, as they are limited to Maharashtra, the Congress is worried about the national picture, if it includes Mr Thackeray's outfit.
There have been reports that Sharad Pawar - who has reached an understanding with the Congress about seat sharing in the state - is pushing for an understanding with the MNS.
Over the last year, the NCP chief has shared stage several times with Raj Thackeray. In October, their long conversation during a plane journey to Mumbai had set off speculation about an alliance.
In 2014 general elections, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance had swept the elections, winning 41 seats. The Congress-NCP alliance was reduced to 6 seats, whereas Raj Thackeray's party couldn't open its account.
With inputs from PTI
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