The Sena-BJP-RPI alliance declared its seat-sharing ratio at a press conference yesterday, amid whispers that newcomer RPI was unhappy at being denied several of the seats it had coveted
Close on the heels of the announcement that the Congress and NCP have joined forces to form a mighty alliance for the February BMC polls, the Sena-BJP-RPI combine inked its poll pact yesterday, announcing that Shiv Sena, BJP and RPI will be contesting for 135, 63 and 29 seats respectively.
It is believed that the delay in declaring the partnership was caused by concerted deliberations, and a lack of consensus over the number of seats to be allotted to each party. While the two titans - Sena and BJP - seemed satiated with their individual draws, the recent entrant RPI seemed to have been left out in the cold.
A downcast RPI (A) President Ramdas Athawale struggled to conceal his disappointment, saying, "The meeting was held to discuss seat-sharing. We had asked for certain seats. But our main aim is to win the BMC as part of the most powerful alliance."
According to sources, the RPI had its eye on two seats that the BJP too was vying for - seat number 98 from Mulund, reserved for a female OBC candidate, and seat number 141 from Chembur, reserved for a male OBC contestant.
Why so serious? While Shiv Sena and BJP appeared satisfied, even
ecstatic with their draw of seats, RPI chief Ramdas Athawale's expression
suggested lukwarm enthusiasm, as the party had to remain content with
only 29 seats, having had to concede many of the ones it had coveted to
the titans. Pic Vijay Bate
Discord broke out when the BJP asserted its unwillingness to part with the two coveted seats.
"Our candidate from Mulund won the seat last time with a whopping margin of over 5,000 votes. How can we give up a seat that is sure to bring us victory? Chembur too, is one of our strongholds, and we did not want to relinquish it," said a leader from the BJP, on condition of anonymity. Predictably, the BJP emerged victorious in this veritable tug-of-war.
"We didn't expect to reach a consensus about seat-sharing today, or declare the decision. All the senior leaders were debating matters thoroughly till a late hour, and senior leaders finally convinced the RPI to give up the seats," said the BJP leader.
Not all went home happy, however. RPI loyalists were heard whispering that seats previously lost by the BJP have been unceremoniously dumped on them, as they are the newest entrants in the alliance.
The party with the biggest draw and the best bargain from the day's deliberations was Team Sena, which appeared to have smoothly claimed all the seats it had eyed, managing to stake its claim even to seats which were previously not in its quota - ward number 192 from Mahalaxmi, which had been contested and subsequently lost by the BJP in 2007, was passed on to the Sena, in the face of much dissent.
Ward number 134 from Chembur was also granted to the Sena to be contested by the incumbent BMC Standing Committee Chairman Rahul Shewale, bringing a weeklong clash over the matter between the BJP and Shiv Sena to a tepid resolution.
Marathi was the flavour of the day, with Sena Executive Chief taking pains to address the reporters in the local language, even when the questions were thrown at him in Hindi.
He said, "We don't consider the NCP-Congress as a threat.
It is good that they have joined forces. Earlier, when we won the elections, they attributed our victory to their disagreements. When we win this time, they will have no excuses left."
Did you know?
> 227: The number of constituencies under the BMC
> 2,000: The number of candidates who are expected to contest the
polls in Mumbai