Mumbai: Like the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance in Maharashtra, troubles appeared to have cropped up in the rival camp also with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) virtually giving an ultimatum to the Congress party to decide seat sharing for the assembly polls in one day.

The party has gone on the offensive as it pitched for as many as 144 seats after rejecting the 124 seats offered to it by Congress. Maharastra assembly has a total of 288 seats.

In a press conference in Mumbai, NCP vice-president Praful Patel gave the Congress one day to respond on the issue of seat-sharing for the 15 October assembly polls, saying the party would not wait any longer. “The filing of nominations has begun. We can wait for a day more for Congress’s response on our proposal on the quantum of seats," Patel told reporters even as he clarified that it was not meant to be an ultimatum.

There has been no response from Congress to our demand for 144 seats despite top leaders of the two parties meeting weeks ago, said Patel.

“By offering 124 seats, Congress is doing is no favour to us, we had contested those many seats during 2004 assembly elections, so we would like to hear from Congress, how many more seats over and above the 124, they are ready to offer us," Patel said adding that the old formula does not apply now after the NCP got more seats than the Congress in Maharashtra in the recent Lok Sabha polls.

He added, “We want some official intimation from them by tomorrow, failing which I will meet CM Prithviraj Chavan on Monday morning."

Reminding the Congress that the last date for filing nomination is 27th September, Patel said, “Even after we (Congress-NCP) agree on numbers, we will have to sort out the issue of swapping of few seats which are not won by the either party, in last three elections and then complete candidate selection process too, so the Congress should not waste any more time and revert back to us as soon as possible and latest by tomorrow."

Asked if NCP would go it alone if need be, Patel said, “That option is open to all parties."

Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena and the BJP leaders on Saturday held talks to end the tangle over seat-sharing for the assembly polls but failed to reach an agreement. The two oldest NDA allies, however, insisted that they did not want the alliance to come apart.

In New Delhi, Maharashtra Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said the party had put the ball in the NCP’s court and said Pawar’s party is yet to give a “positive response" to the former’s proposal for seat-sharing.

After a meeting of the party’s Central Election Committee (CEC) here, he said that Congress will have to prepare for all 288 seats in the state if a response from the NCP does not come within a day or two. He said the Congress was racing against time to finalize nominations for the 15 October polls and that time is of the essence for tying up the seat-sharing arrangement. PTI

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