After engaging in shadow boxing through the media, BJP and Shiv Sena leaders came together yesterday to discuss the contentious seat-sharing issue for the state assembly elections, scheduled for October. The first meeting of the old allies on the matter was held at a five-star hotel in Bandra Kurla Complex.
While the BJP was represented by state unit chief Devendra Fadnavis, leaders of opposition in the state legislature Eknath Khadse and Vinod Tawde, organising secretary Ravindra Bhusari and Pankaja Munde, Shiv Sena fielded Subhash Desai, Sanjay Raut, Ramdas Kadam, Gajanan Kirtikar and Liladhar Dake.
After preliminary discussions, the parties decided that the seat sharing talks should be completed by August 10 so that the alliance can get a lead in campaigning. They also decided to discuss the issue with the other four Mahayuti partners RPI (Athawale), Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and Shiv Sangram and to call leaders of the party for the next meeting, said a senior BJP leader.
BJP state chief Devendra Fadnavis said the next meeting would be held on July 28 or 30. “The grand alliance of six parties is intact and there are no differences among them,” said Fadnavis. It must be recalled that, riding on the massive support it got during the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP is vying for 144 seats against the 117 seats it used to contest on.
Shiv Sena, on the other hand, seems reluctant to part with any seats from its quota of 171. Meanwhile, sources said, Raju Shetti of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana expects 25 seats, though he has demanded 65. Ramdas Athawale also hopes to get a sizable share.