Saffron pact to be announced by Monday or Tuesday
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) central election committee chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister and party chief Amit Shah met on Sunday to finalise the list of candidates for the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly polls.
The party did not release the list until late on Sunday night. It is now likely to be released on Monday morning.
After the CEC meeting, Shah held another round of deliberations with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil to finalise the seat-sharing pact of the saffron allies as well as names of some of its candidates. The pact is near finalized, but held up over a disagreement over two seats and could be announced on Monday or Tuesday.
Two senior BJP leaders told HT that the alliance formula has been stuck over disagreement over just two seats. While the Shiv Sena is insisting on 126 seats, the BJP is willing to concede 124 seats to its ally.
In any scenario, the BJP will get to contest a larger share of 144 or 146 seats and will keep the remaining 18 seats for its smaller allies. However, the BJP is also likely to convince majority of its smaller allies to contest on its party symbol and thereby further increase its seat share.
The dispute it is learnt was about two Assembly constituencies of Belapur in Navi Mumbai and Mann in Satara, which the Sena is asking. For both these seats, the BJP has inducted Opposition leaders, former NCP minister Ganesh Naik for Belapur and former Congress legislator Jaykumar Gore for Mann.
“The Sena will agree to 124 seats and the pact will be announced on Monday or Tuesday. There is a tussle over these two seats but it will be sorted out,” said a senior BJP leader.
During the 2014 polls, the alliance was broken at the last minute, after the Sena insisted on contesting 151 seats of the 288 seats, while the BJP was willing to concede 149 seats then.
Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the saffron allies had finalised a pact that promised equal seat sharing to the partners. However, post one-sided mandate in the Lok Sabha polls and its tally of 122 seats against Sena’s 63 seats in 2014 assembly polls, BJP refused to concede equal seats.
The BJP will induct another lot of Opposition leaders and legislators in its fold on Monday. It is learnt that as many as six leaders are expected to join the BJP. These include three Congress legislators Bharat Bhalke (Pandharpur), Siddharam Mhetre (Akkalkot) and Aslam Shaikh (Malad). Gopichand Padalkar, a Dhangar leader and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi candidate in the Lok Sabha polls is also likely to join the BJP at the function organised at Garware Club in Mumbai. So far, six sitting Opposition legislators, two former MPs, one sitting MP and sever former ministers have joined the BJP.