No change in 50:50 poll seat-sharing formula for Maharashtra: Shiv Sena
As the seat-sharing talks between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have begun, the Sena on Thursday made it clear that it will not accept less than half the seats to be contested by the two parties, a plan announced by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in February.
With the state Assembly elections expected to be held in mid-October, the BJP and Sena leaders have completed the first round of discussions. BJP state president and state minister Chandrakant Patil, water resources minister Girish Mahajan and Sena’s senior leader and industries minister Subhash Desai held preliminary discussions to decide the seat-sharing formula for the 288 Assembly seats.
After its landslide victory in this year’s Lok Sabha elections, the BJP wants to keep a larger share of the 270 seats, after keeping aside 18 seats for smaller allies in Maharashtra. The Sena, however, is pushing for a 50:50 seat share, which would mean it wants to contest 135 seats. Senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut said the party only recognises the formula announced by Fadnavis. “I do not know what figures are being spoken about in the media. We will only go by what was announced by the chief minister when the alliance was declared; the formula is 50:50,” Raut told HT.
With the Sena playing hardball over seat-sharing talks, the ties between the two parties are likely to get strained again. A meeting between Fadnavis, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and BJP working president JP Nadda is expected to be held within a week. Significantly, both Fadnavis and Thackeray avoided sharing dais at two public functions on Thursday. Both the leaders were scheduled to attend a function of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation at Mumbai Central and a public meeting of ally Ramdas Athawale’s Republican Party of India (A) at Worli. Fadnavis skipped MSRTC function hosted by Sena minister Diwakar Raote where Thackeray was the chief guest. The Sena chief skipped Athawale’s function while Fadnavis attended it.
A senior Sena functionary, who is privy to the details of the meeting held on Wednesday, said, “Nothing has been finalised yet. We will not agree to less number of seats. It is akin to playing a second fiddle.”
BJP’s chief spokesperson in Maharashtra Madhav Bhandari said that the figures being spoken about are “media speculations”. When asked if the party is intending to keep a larger share of seats, Bhandari said, “All these figures are media speculation and we do not want to comment on it. There has been no official announcement. Our state party president or the CM will make statements on seat-sharing.”