Mumbai: The opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra on Tuesday indicated they were ready to jointly fight the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the next general and assembly elections.

At a joint meeting in Mumbai on Tuesday, state-level leaders from the two parties agreed to work together to prevent division in the “secular votes", according to Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan and his NCP counterpart Sunil Tatkare.

The Congress and the NCP had decided to split just ahead of the assembly elections in October 2014. In that election, the Congress won 42 seats and the NCP 41 in the 288-member Maharashtra legislative assembly. The BJP and Shiv Sena also severed their alliance and fought the elections separately. The BJP won 122 seats and Shiv Sena 63.

Senior leaders from the Congress and the NCP met at the residence of Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, Congress leader and leader of the opposition in the legislative assembly. Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and NCP leader Jayant Patil among others attended the meeting. Later, Ashok Chavan told reporters that both parties agreed on the need to “come together and work together in order to prevent the division in the secular vote".

“The situation in the country is such that we have to work together to ensure that the secular vote does not split. We are open to working with the NCP," Chavan said. His NCP counterpart Sunil Tatkare echoed a similar view and said the NCP never had any “bitterness" about the Congress.

The Congress-NCP bonhomie is significant in the wake of the Shiv Sena’s announcement last month that it would contest the next round of general and assembly elections on its own. Since April last year, the Congress and NCP have given several indications of their intent to work together and revive the alliance. The Congress-NCP combine ruled Maharashtra from 1999 to 2014.

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