Activities gained momentum after the election schedule was announced. Parties realised they had just 15 days to work out their seat-sharing pacts and finalise candidates, and another 15 after that for campaigning.
While the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) started working overtime on finalising a seat-sharing formula, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had made little headway till late on Friday.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and state BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis met on Thursday to find solutions to the demands raised by their four smaller allies of which only Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana has agreed to accept the offer of 6-7 seats, primarily in western Maharashtra.
The two leaders met again on Friday night to address the issue. Sources said the BJP will scale down its demand to 132 seats as against 144 of the total 288 demanded earlier, and won’t let the Sena have more than 140 seats so that the remaining seats are distributed to the smaller allies.
In 2009, the Sena had contested 169 and BJP had fought 119 seats.
“We must finalise things really fast as the election schedule has been announced,” Fadnavis told HT on Friday. According to him, the Sena and BJP will proceed only after satisfying their other allies.
Things are not going quite well in the Congress and NCP camps. The ruling parties have not started talking formally despite the Congress high command directing its state unit to make a decision.
The NCP is demanding more than the 114 seats it contested in 2009, but the Congress is not willing to concede.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan told reporters on Friday that the talks with the NCP will happen in two segments. The leaders will decide the number of seats each party will contest and also swap some seats. “We will safeguard interests of both parties while finalising the agreement,” he said.