After days of conflict, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) camp has welcomed the move to end the deadlock with ally Shiv Sena, as it will not have to implement its plan of contesting the October 15 assembly polls in Maharashtra on its own.
But the homework that has gone into preparing this plan is expected to influence a fresh round of talks.
The BJP has identified, based on its performance over the years and in the Lok Sabha polls, parts of the state where it can win large numbers to claim the chief minister’s post. Hectic activities were on to finalise candidates and getting allies on board before the polls.
Some in the BJP, with support from senior leader Nitin Gadkari (Vidarbha) and Eknath Khadse (north Maharashtra), were putting pressure on the leadership to break the alliance.
“We must look at our solo strength when the situation is conducive,” said a BJP leader.
He said the party led in 133 of the 144 assembly segments in 24 Lok Sabha seats it contested earlier this year. The BJP won 23 seats.
The state BJP leaders also pointed out that the Modi wave could still help the party and the Modi factor remains its strong point across the state. At many places the party has put up banners with the PM’s photograph, urging voters to vote for BJP.
Sources said BJP’s plan for a solo contest can still play a major role during negotiations on redistributing of 78 seats that the two parties have never won (Sena 59, BJP 19).
The BJP is expected to demand at least 34 of these seats. Apart from the eastern Vidarbha and north Maharashtra, where it has been consistently getting good numbers, the BJP will demand certain segments in western Maharashtra where it made inroads during the LS polls.
It will also ask for six more assembly segments in north Maharashtra, which shares state boundaries with Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.
The BJP’s stakes have always been high in Vidarbha where 60 seats go to polls. It has won more than 19 seats in every election since 1995, while the Sena has won around 11. Now, the BJP wants more in eastern and central Vidarbha.
The BJP has also turned its attention to areas where the Sena enjoys dominance. It has asked for 18 of the 36 seats in Mumbai, and 11 more seats in western Maharashtra.
Central Maharashtra (46 seats) is a big worry, especially after the demise of Gopinath Munde. The party won only two of the 19 seats contested in 2009. It expects to win at least 10 more this year.