Even as poll dates have been announced, the main alliances in the state are yet to decide their seat-sharing formula. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena continued sparring, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) plan to arrive at a decision in New Delhi in a couple of days.
The BJP sent a list of 80 candidates for the Central leadership’s approval on Saturday, while the Sena sources said they have prepared a list of 70-odd candidates and will declare it soon.
The Congress plans to bring out its first list by September 18.
The elections in the state will be held on October 15 and the results will be out on October 19.
Insiders said smaller allies like the Ramdas Athawale-led Republican Party of India (RPI) and Vinayak Mete-led Shivsangram are not ready to scale down their seat demand.
The BJP has made it clear that the Sena should part with seats for the RPI, as the party was primarily its ally. The RPI wants some crucial seats in Mumbai from both the Sena and the BJP.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray tried to tame the smaller allies through an editorial in his party’s mouthpiece Saamana on Saturday, in which he asked them not to create hurdles in the grand alliance by pressing for unreasonable number of seats. “Every political party has the right to expand its horizon, but while doing so they need to ensure they don’t create hurdles for each other. They should fight where they are sure to win and step aside where they are weak,” Thackeray said in the editorial.
Thackeray also told the partners that even if they do not get the number of seats, they will get their share when the government comes to power.
Meanwhile, BJP leaders said they don’t plan to give away any seat in Mumbai to the RPI or any other ally. “We have asked the Sena for half of the seats in the city because we are confident of winning them. The Sena too can win all its seats,” said a leader, requesting anonymity.
The leaders said the BJP has already agreed to give away certain seats in western Maharashtra to Swabhimani Paksha and it expects the Sena to part with some seats in Marathwada and Vidarbha for them. “We will not accept anything less than 132 seats. The Sena will have to satisfy smaller allies using the 12 seats that we may not want to contest,” said a member of state BJP’s core committee.
State Congress president Manikrao Thakre said the party’s first list will have a fair share of women and new faces.
“We have put a lot of thought into the selection process. We expect a fine mix of people from all sections of society as our candidates.”