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New Delhi: With the Election Commission announcing the poll schedule, the pressure is now on political parties to sew up alliances fast. Time is running out as the first phase of polling begins on April 16 and nominations for it close by March 30.

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1717136c-0748-11de-804b-000b5dabf636.flvThe states that go to polls in the first phase include Maharashtra and UP where the shape of coalitions is still not clear. In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is still negotiating with the Samajwadi Party. And the negotiations have not been smooth so far. Its rival, the BJP, has announced its tie-up with Lok Dal. BSP, that swept the state assembly polls in 2007, expects another good run. In Maharashtra, the Congress is still in negotiations with the NCP. The BJP is confident of its alliance with the Shiv Sena and will be working out seat-sharing agreement this week. And in Bihar the Congress-RJD-LJP combine hopes to challenge the formidable BJP-JD (U) combine. Clearly for the Congress a lot remains to be done. The Congress is confident it will be able to resolve the issues soon. “Give us some time. Within a few days the landscape (coalition) will be clear", says Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Spokesperson, Congress.

With Ajit Singh onboard, the NDA might have got a boost in UP but it has a headache in West Bengal where the mercurial Mamta Banerjee of Trinamul is sending positive feelers to the Congress Party. On the record, the BJP sounded satisfied. “Our pre-poll alliance is strong. We’ve already finalized more than 150 candidates and within two weeks we shall be finalizing for all the remaining seats", said Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Spokesperson, BJP

The so-called Third Front has not yet given up its ambitions. TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu has claimed that his front has the support of J.Jayalalithaa of the AIADMK and Mayawati of BSP, the two ladies who hold the key to the 15th Lok Sabha. Meanwhile the parties have to deal with life after delimitation -- where the status of 499 out of a total of 533 Lok Sabha constituencies has been changed.

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