As counting ended for polls to five municipal corporations across Maharashtra on Monday,the stage appeared set for a fresh power tussle between coalition partners Congress and Nationalist Congress Party,with the former regaining some pride lost to its junior coalition partner in recent elections. Of the 371 corporator wards that went to polls this weekend in Chandrapur,Latur,Parbhani,Malegaon and Bhiwandi,the Congress captured 149 seats while the NCP managed only 64.
Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Manikrao Thakre,who,not long ago,berated the NCP for abandoning coalition dharma by aligning with the Shiv Sena and BJP in zilla parishads across Vidarbha to stop Congress candidates from winning presidentship polls,said on Monday that the party would like to forge an alliance with like-minded parties. But,we are keeping our options open and will be cautious, he warned,even as senior Congress leaders said the party was in talks with Independents.
While Congress posted a convincing win on its own in former CM Vilasrao Deshmukhs hometown of Latur,there is no clear majority in any of the remaining four corporations that went to polls. The Congress finished as the single largest party in Malegaon,Bhiwandi-Nizampur and Chandrapur corporations while NCP emerged as the largest party in one municipality,Parbhani.
Senior MPCC leaders said the party would be prepared to support the NCP in Parbhani if the latter takes the initiative for discussions,but sources also said the BJP was in talks with the NCP for support in Parbhani in return for exchange of support in Chandrapur,the hometown of state BJP chief Sudhir Mungantiwar.
The NCP chose to keep its cards close to its chest and refrained from making any comments about likely alliances.