Alliance Sealed: BJP to contest 162 seats, Sena 126 seats in upcoming Maha polls

Alliance Sealed: BJP to contest 162 seats, Sena 126 seats in upcoming Maha polls
During the 2014 state assembly polls, the BJP won 122 out of 260 seats it had contested while the Sena bagged 63 out of 282 seats

A day after the saffron allies announced their grand alliance, reports suggest the BJP will contest 162 seats while Shiv Sena will contest the remaining 126 seats in the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly Elections.

The 288-member Maharashtra Assembly will go to the polls on October 21 and the results will be declared on October 24.

The seat-sharing agreement between the NDA allies, a stark contrast from the 50:50 deal the Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was vying for, was first reported by The Times of India.

Although, BJP’s recent success in the Lok Sabha elections and the abrogation fo Article 370 may have played a crucial role during negotiations.

Notably, the BJP will give a few seats from its quota to smaller allies like Ramdas Athawle’s Republican Party of India, Rashtriya Samaj Party of Dhangar leader Mahadev Jankar, state minister Sadabhau Khot’s Rayatkranti and Shivsangram party of Maratha leader Vinayak Mete.

Earlier on Monday, the ruling combine of BJP-Shiv Sena issued a joint press statement ending weeks of speculation surrounding their alliance.

But, unlike in previous years, the statement was not signed by the top leaders of both parties. Instead, the signatories were state BJP president Chandrakant Patil and senior Sena minister Subhash Desai.

“Under the leadership of Devendra Fadnavis and under the guidance of Uddhav Thackeray, the government of grand alliance took the state to a new height in last five years and now as per the democratic traditions we will be facing the polls,” the statement said.

“Following the discussions between Uddhav Thackeray and Devendra Fadnavis and also with other allies such as Ramdas Athawale, Vinayak Mete, Sadabhau Khot, Mahadev Jankar, the decision to contest upcoming elections in an alliance has been taken unanimously. Thus, the grand alliance is being announced,” it adds.

The delay in announcing the seat-sharing, observers say, could be a deliberate move on part of the BJP and Shiv Sena to ensure there is little time for rebels or defectors to play their cards.

Interestingly, the BJP and the Sena had contested the 2014 assembly elections separately over a dispute over sharing of seats.

In the end, the BJP won maximum 122 out of 260 seats it had contested while the Sena bagged 63 out of 282 seats. Both the parties later joined hands to form a BJP-led government.

Around two decades back, when the late Bal Thackeray was at the helm of affairs at Sena, it was the BJP who was trying to convince the Sena patriarch for more seats.

Over the last few years, however, the tides have changed for the BJP, which enjoys mass popularity in the state. While the Sena isn’t happy playing second fiddle, there’s not much it can bring to the table to tilt the scales in its favour.

The upcoming polls also mark an important occasion for the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena, with his son Aaditya entering electoral politics and becoming the first member of the Thackeray clan to do so since the party was founded in 1966.

While the Sena was looking at projecting him as its Chief Minister face, the BJP has remained adamant about the incumbent Devendra Fadnavis taking reigns once again.

However, reports suggest that the BJP it may offer the deputy CM post to the Thackeray scion and more seats in the legislative council to keep Sena happy.

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