In the run-up to the Congress-BJP clash in Maharashtra, it’s actually their allies — NCP and Shiv Sena — who are calling the shots.
With the assembly polls slated for October in the state, both the local parties are trying their best to wrestle a bigger piece of the vote pie from their ally partners, respectively.
“NCP is playing into the insecurities of the Congress, knowing well that they will do anything to retain their biggest state. Similarly, Sena is pushing its weight around after the bypoll results knowing the BJP is feeling the heat,’’ said Surendra Jondhale, a political analyst.
The Cong-NCP combine is going through a rough patch and the latest move by the Sharad Pawar-led party to conduct interviews of potential candidates for all the 288 assembly seats has not gone down too well with the Congress. On Wednesday, Congress finally reacted and announced to conduct interviews for the 114 traditional NCP seats from next week.
The Shiv Sena has gained new strength to bargain with BJP post the bypoll results in Bihar and Karnataka this week. “We will stick to our 20-year long formula and make no compromises on that. Like our editorial said, ‘a Lok Sabha poll is different from a state poll’, the equations are different,” said Sena leader Subhash Desai.
The Sena editorial a day after the bypoll results had taunted the BJP saying it cannot rely solely on the Modi wave. After the parliamentary polls, the BJP made its ally feel that the 41 seats that the alliance won in the state — BJP bagged 23 and Sena 18 — was largely due to the Modi wave.
Meanwhile, deputy CM Ajit Pawar has repeatedly threatened to go solo unless Congress gave it 144 seats. Pawar senior tried to take a middle path by saying the party was willing to compromise. But just a day later, senior NCP leader Praful Patel said his party was firm on the demand for 144 seats.