BJP, Sena to discuss seat-sharing soon
With around two months to go for the Maharashtra assembly polls, the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are set to commence the seat-sharing discussions next week.
The preliminary level talks are expected to be held by senior Sena leader Subhash Desai and BJP state president Chandrakant Patil. With both parties eyeing a larger share, it is likely to create a friction between the two allies, who have shared an uneasy relationship in the past five years. After getting a thumping majority in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, there are murmurs within the BJP to not give in Sena’s demands of more seats, instead, use the opportunity to increase its numbers in the state Assembly. The Sena, in its attempt to regain the ‘big brother’s status in Maharashtra, is expected to seek half the 288 Assembly seats in the state. While the BJP intends to divide seats between smaller allies and then equally divide seats with Sena. “We would start our discussions next week. As the polling day is expected to be around mid-October; we still have time,” said Subhash Desai, who has been Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s trusted man in seat-sharing discussions. The Sena and BJP snapped their 25-year-old alliance in 2014, after seat-sharing talks failed, and contested the polls independently. The BJP won 122 seats, while the Sena managed to win 63 seats at a time when the Modi factor was at its peak. Although the alliance is forged between the saffron parties, numerically the BJP has more to lose. “The idea being explored is to leave 18 seats for our allies and the Sena and BJP can get 135 seats each. The BJP has 122 MLAs and support of eight independents, while the Sena has 63 MLAs. The BJP will only get five additional seats to contest. It will not be an easy decision,” said a senior BJP legislator. “The seat-sharing discussions will start soon. It (splitting 270 seats after leaving 18 seats for allies) is one of the options in the discussions. But finally the decision will be taken by the chief minister and Uddhav ji,” said Chandrakant Patil, state BJP chief, and state revenue minister.
“They are BJP’s allies, not Sena’s. They will have to give the seats from their share. For us, the seat-sharing formula is 144 seats each,” said a Sena functionary.