Maharashtra: BJP set to junk Shiv Sena’s 50-50 demand, claim 173 seats in all
- Junking the 50-50 formula the Shiv Sena has been insisting on, the BJP is likely to lay claim to 155 out of 288 assembly seats in Maharashtra.
- BJP is likely to offer 18 seats to its smaller partners.
- Shiv Sena may accept the new formula in view of the “pro-BJP wave” in the country, the sources added.
If the smaller allies succumb to CM Devendra Fadnavis’s persuasive tactics and agree to contest on the ruling party’s ‘lotus’ symbol, the BJP’s tally will go up to 173, while the Sena’s share will dwindle to 110 seats, BJP sources said on Tuesday. Maharashtra has 288 assembly seats.
The BJP will cite the bigger mandate it won in the Lok Sabha elections and nationwide support to the Modi regime in the wake of nullifying of Article 370 to claim more seats, sources said.
Matoshree may accept the new formula in view of the “pro-BJP wave” in the country, the sources added.
If this happens, it will be a rejection of the “equal share” pact which, the Sena has claimed, was agreed upon between BJP president Amit Shah, CM Fadnavis and Sena president Uddhav Thackeray in April this year when the three leaders met to finalise the alliance for the Lok Sabha polls. Under this old formula, while the BJP and Sena would have got 144 seats each, the BJP was to offer its smaller NDA allies —RPI (Athavale), Rashtriya Samaj Party and Shiv Sangram Sanghatana, among others—seats from its own kitty.
A BJP strategist agreed that Sena’s seats would come down to 110, but said it could get 2-3 seats more depending on its “negotiating skills”.
Sena ready with list of 288 candidates
Sena minister Subhash Desai and state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil have been holding informal parleys to hammer out a seatdistribution formula, it is learnt. A final decision will be taken by Shah, Fadnavis and Thackeray.
The BJP’s state election committee met in Mumbai on Monday to review the party’s poll preparedness in all constituencies. The Sena too is ready with a list of 288 candidates in case the ongoing seat-sharing talks with the BJP fail, it is learnt.
The BJP’s strategy to score over the Sena in allocation of seats may not go down well with Matoshree. However, Uddhav Thackeray may eventually accept the new formula in order to keep his flock together, said Sena watchers.
Matoshree is worried that any confrontation with the BJP which, according to political experts, is set to register a handsome poll victory in Maharashtra, may lead to a split in the Sena, said a Sena functionary. “There is no point in picking up a quarrel with the BJP at this point in time. We will have to wait till the mighty BJP tide subsides,” he remarked.
Talking to mediapersons at his Bandra residence on Monday, Thackeray said the official announcement of Sena’s ‘yuti’ (alliance) with the BJP would be made in a day or two. Speaking in the presence of PM Modi at a function in Mumbai last Sunday, Uddhav had said that the BJP-Sena tie-up was on, indicating that the Sena may be willing to toe the BJP line on sharing of seats.
Uddhav had said at the function at the Bandra-Kurla Complex that he had thanked PM Modi for nullifying Article 370 and had made another push for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya and the introduction of a Uniform Civil Code. The Sena president had said he had no doubt that the alliance would return to power in Maharashtra.