The Shiv Sena and the BJP seem to be in no mood to turn away their new ally — the Ramdas Athawale-led Republican Party of India — and have given in to its demand for more seats.
In a meeting held on Thursday evening between the Sena, BJP and RPI, it was decided that RPI would contest on 29 seats of the 227. Earlier, the party was offered 25 seats, but Athawale had demanded five more.
The RPI, which has a major Dalit voter base, was with the Congress for more than two decades, and recently joined hands with the Sena, hoping to get their due. For the Sena too, the alliance holds importance as both the Congress and the MNS have a sizeable share of Dalit supporters.
“There is no conflict between us. We will give them the four to five additional seats that they have asked for,” said Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray.
Confirming the deal, state BJP president Sudhir Mungantiwar said: “We will for go 9 seats, and Sena will give up 20 seats.”
A visibly-happy Athawale said that they were glad the Sena-BJP had agreed to their demand. “Now, there is trouble,” he said, as a warning to rivals.
The Sena-BJP-RPI alliance will jointly announce the final seat-sharing formula for all municipal corporation elections, including Mumbai, on January 11.
However, not all went smoothly at the meeting. Namdeo Dhasal, a dalit leader and founder Dalit Pandher left thalfway, after a disagreement with Athawale.
Dhasal said that while he was the one to initiate the relationship with the Sena, the RPI had still not included him in the decision-making process.