Even as the Shiv Sena continues to insist on contesting equal number of seats with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming Assembly election, state BJP president Chandrakant Patil has claimed that 50-50 seat sharing formula may not be possible and the Uddhav Thackeray-led party is also aware of it.
“There will be no discussion on the seats won in the 2014 elections during the seat-sharing talks. Talks will be held only on the remaining seats. On the issue of seat sharing for the Assembly polls, the BJP as well as the Shiv Sena are of the view that each other’s incumbent seats will not be disturbed. Hence, there can be an number wise imbalance in the seats in various parts of the state,” Mr Patil said.
Mr Patil, who is also the revenue minister of the state, further added, “We already have 122 MLAs in the Assembly. In addition, there are six Independents and four MLAs, who have joined the party recently. In such a scenario, if we are given 135 seats, or 50 percent of the total seats, then talks will be held only on three seats. Both parties are aware of this fact. Hence, seats of across the state will discussed during the seat-sharing talks.”
Mr Patil’s statement comes as a surprise since the Sena has been repeating that the BJP had already agreed to contest on equal number of seats. Needless to say, the latest claim by the senior BJP leader is likely to further add to the growing uncertainty around the alliance.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Mr Thackeray have been claiming that the alliance has been finalised. Nevertheless, the content of their agreement has not been made public as yet.
While announcing the seat-sharing arrangement for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the chief minister had announced that both parties would be contesting equal number of seats in the Vidhan Sabha polls.
He had also said that posts and responsibilities would be shared equally among them after the polls in April-May 2019.
“For the Vidhan Sabha polls, the quota of allied parties will be finalised after holding discussion with them. Both parties would not only contest the remaining seats equally, but the posts and responsibilities will also be shared equally,” the chief minister had said.
Mr Fadnavis’ statement assumed sugnificance as the Sena had always complained of being left out of key portfolios in the state government, which it joined in December 2014.
In the recently concluded Lok Sabha election, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance had achieved an unprecedented victory, winning 41 seats in the state.
Maharashtra is expected to elect a new 288-member legislative Assembly in October 2019.