Amit Shah cancels Mumbai visit, Sena-BJP seat-sharing announcement on hold

Amit Shah cancels Mumbai visit, Sena-BJP seat-sharing announcement on hold
During his visit, Shah was expected to finalise the seat-sharing agreement and formally announce the BJP-Sena alliance for the upcoming Maharashtra assembly polls (Representational Image)

BJP president Amit Shah, who was expected to visit the city on September 26 to announce the seat-sharing agreement with ally Shiv Sena, has cancelled his Mumbai visit.

During the visit, Shah was expected to formally announce the BJPSena tie-up for the upcoming Maharashtra assembly polls, scheduled on October 21.

Its cancellation is likely to further delay the announcement of seat-sharing arrangement between the saffron allies.

“Shah had especially come down to Mumbai ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and made an official announcement of yuti (alliance) between the BJP and the Sena in February this year,” a BJP leader was quoted as saying.

“It was expected that Shah would finalise the seat-sharing formula and announce it during his visit on Thursday. With the cancellation of his visit, there is no certainty that the alliance will be announced anytime soon,” he added.

Earlier, state BJP president Chandrakant Patil had stated that the seat-sharing deal between the saffron parties will be announced by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.

“The alliance talks are in the final stage. Chief Minister Fadnavis and Uddhav Thackeray are finalising the talks. They are also discussing it with BJP national president Amit Shah. I have thus decided not to make any further comments over the issue,” Patil told reporters.

In the 2014 polls, the BJP won 122 seats and the Sena won 63 on the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly. The two parties had contested the elections separately at the time but joined forces after the polls.

Given BJP’s gradual rise in Maharashtra politics, where Sena has always been a prominent player, the two parties are locked in intense negotiations over the number of seats each can contest.

According to political observers, the Shiv Sena doesn’t want to give away too many seats to the BJP to ensure it remains a formidable force in the state.

The latter, on the other hand, is looking at leveraging its growing popularity to lessen its dependence on regional parties.

The Shiv Sena has maintained the seat-sharing formula was decided during the Lok Sabha elections, where the two parties had a pre-poll alliance.

According to the Uddhav Thackeray-led party, this meant equal distribution of seats and sharing of the chief minister’s post for two-and-a-half-years each.

However, during a rally on Sunday, Shah had lauded Fadnavis for his performance over the last five years and asserted he will continue to hold the top post after elections, which he claimed, the NDA will win with a three- fourth majority.

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