The current political scenario in the state is similar to an Akbar Birbal story. Emperor Akbar was too fond of his parrot, but one day the bird dies. None of the ministers have the courage to break the news to him as they fear they would incur his wrath. This is the same case with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Shiv Sena, Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), who have parted ways and are all set to contest the forthcoming assembly elections independently. However, none of the ministers from the parties are willing to come on record and accept this as they fear it will send tremors of distrust in political circles across the state. On Saturday night, Devendra Fadnavis, BJP’s state unit chief, visited Matoshree to talk to Uddhav Thackeray about the seat sharing formula.
(L to R) NCP’s state unit chief Sunil Tatkare, CM Prithviraj Chavan, BJP’s state unit chief Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena spokesman MP Sanjay Raut may be smiling here, but things are far from fine. Pic/Ravikiran Deshmukh
Without waiting for the outcome of the present deadlock, the BJP core committee, comprising senior leaders had a daylong meeting on Saturday to finalise the list of its candidates. This list will be submitted to the parliamentary board at New Delhi on Sunday. Senior leaders from Maharashtra will fly to New Delhi to discuss the list, which may be announced later.
The number game
A senior BJP leader told sunday mid-day, on condition of anonymity, “We gave ample time to Shiv Sena and submitted our demands for seat allocation on Friday. But there was no response except a meeting with senior leader Subhash Desai which took place at party MP Poonam Mahajan’s Worli residence on Saturday afternoon.” The outcome of the meeting is not known but sources said Sena submitted a fresh proposal stating, of the 288-member state assembly it wanted to retain 155 seats, BJP would be given 126 and seven seats would go in favour of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana. The remaining three smaller parties were to be accommodated by BJP. “In any case, our demand is clear and we want equal share of seats after allocating 18 seats to four alliance partners,” said the leader.
When asked, leader of opposition in state assembly Eknath Khadse said the BJP was prepared to contest all the 288 seats. “We are trying to save the alliance but cannot keep our party workers interest aside in the light of Lok Sabha results.” At B-4, Khadse’s official residence near Mantralaya, the BJP core committee met twice on Saturday in which discussions were held on party candidates and seat allocation to the Republican party of India (RPI), Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP), Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and Shiv Sangram. Meanwhile, BJP’s leader of opposition in state council ,Vinod Tawde, told media persons that a proposal with 156 seats to Sena and 132 seats to BJP was forwarded by the Shiv Sena. And both the parties are expected to allocate a few numbers of seats from their quota. But, this proposal too failed to elicit any response.
Both Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan (right) and MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre (left) are against offering 144 seats to NCP. File pic
Despite speculations, Congress went ahead with a meeting of its central election committee (CEC) in Delhi on Saturday where discussion was held on 174 seats. The NCP was expecting an invitation for discussion on seat sharing talks but the Sharad Pawar-led party was ignored. Upon learning that Congress was going to offer 124 seats to it, NCP toughened its stand and rejected the offer.
Speaking to media persons senior NCP leader Praful Patel said with the notification for elections issued on Saturday little time was left and quick decision on seat sharing was needed. “We have demanded 144 seats on the basis of Lok Sabha results but Congress has not come forward with any new proposal. We submitted our proposal a month back but haven’t received any response from the Congress. If no decision is taken within two days, other options will be kept ready,” said Patel.
It might be recalled that both Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief Manikrao Thakre are against offering 144 seats to NCP. The CM has already stated that the Congress was capable of fighting state assembly elections independently.