Pact sealed, but numbers still a secret
Saffron allies to contest together; final number of seats for each party will be decided soon
Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena on Monday announced a pre-poll alliance without revealing any numbers, confirming speculation that the two parties have been unable to come to an agreement over certain crucial seats that both covet. Word is that the Sena will get 124 seats, the BJP, 146, and smaller allies, 18.
Insiders said the partners were wrangling over some high-stake seats, including those from Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan. The BJP has 'imported' candidates for some of these seats, while the Sena wants some of the BJP's current seats to be vacated to accommodate Sainiks or turncoats. For example, the BJP wants Airoli and Belapur, and the Sena wants Thane (City). A few more are disputed.
In another departure from the past, Monday's announcement lacked fanfare associated with the two partners. Some saw it as an attempt to prevent rebellion within the ranks. Some said the BJP leadership did not want to turn the announcement into a major event because some of its leaders and workers feel that any eventual formula will be too Sena-friendly.
Supporters, including those on social media, questioned the BJP's 'magnanimity' and asked why the Sena, which has 63 MLAs, should get twice that number to contest this time. A joint-statement signed by state BJP president Chandrakant Patil and Sena's senior leader Subhash Desai said that the parties will keep up with tradition and also take smaller allies along.
In 2014, the Sena and BJP had parted ways after fighting the Lok Sabha polls together. This year, they teamed up again for the central elections and agreed to contest the assembly polls together. Even before the official declaration, the Sena gave out endorsement letters to its confirmed candidates on Sunday.
The divisional heads of BJP also were given forms to avoid a last-minute rush before nominations closed on October 4. The first announcement of filing of nomination came from Mumbai BJP President Mangalprabhat Lodha from Malabar Hill.
No. of MLAs Sena currently has; the party may be allotted 124 seats now
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