Mumbai: BJP, Shiv Sena battle it outover seat-sharing issue
The parties have failed to reach a consensus on the share of seats that should go to smaller parties for the state Assembly elections
The seat-sharing talks between the BJP and Shiv Sena started off on a disappointing note as the parties failed to reach a consensus over the share of seats that should go to smaller alliance partners for the upcoming state Assembly elections. Even if this gets resolved, the next meeting to be held this weekend is expected to hit a hurdle as the major parties are looking at bigger shares of the 288 Assembly seats.
Even as BJP President Amit Shah has endorsed the willingness to enter an accord and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is also of the same opinion, the future of the parties' unity depends on the formula that both approve ahead of the elections to be declared after Ganeshotsav. The two had parted ways in 2014 when their talks fizzled out. The Congress and NCP too went separate ways making the 2014 Assembly elections a four-corner fight. Five years later, the BJP and Sena contested the Lok Sabha polls together again, so did the Congress and NCP. The saffron parties have pledged to be in alliance for the Assembly polls also. Affected by defections, the Congress and NCP have already reached the advanced stages of seat-sharing.
According to sources, the BJP has decided to start negotiating with a demand for 171 seats while Sena wants at least half of the total number of seats citing the pre-Lok Sabha talks between Shah, Thackeray and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. While the BJP hasn't approved the 50-50 seat-sharing formula, it has consistently maintained that the two parties had already decided on the seat-sharing equation. Ticket aspirants in the BJP don't want an alliance because of the party's growing popularity. They also feel that sharing of seats would deny the leaders an opportunity to contest the elections, but they are hopeful since the BJP is preparing to fight from all seats if the parties fail to enter into a pact.
BJP's state president Chandrakant Patil and Sena's senior minister Subhash Desai are leading the negotiations. Girish Mahajan (BJP) shared the table on Wednesday night while senior minister Sudhir Mungantiwar is expected to be part of the team in the next meeting.
The Sena chief has authorised Desai to tweak the seat-sharing formula and agree or disagree with the BJP through consultation. Sources said that the principal partners have already agreed to leave at least 18 seats for the smaller allies such as RPI (A), RSP, Shiv Sangram and Swabhimani Rayat Sanghtana, but it has emerged now that the Sena wants BJP to accommodate them in its quota.
It has also been learnt that as the talks graduate to the next level both parties would scale down their demands. A BJP leader said that the Sena should agree on double of its current strength of 63 in the Assembly and added that the exchange of seats between the two would also be considered before sealing the accord.
Total no. of Assembly seats
Sena's current strength in the Assembly
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