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BJP-Sena finalise Maharashtra seat deal, say it’s important for ‘brothers’ to stay together

Under the arrangement, the BJP will contest 150 of Maharashtra’s 288 assembly seats, and the Shiv Sena, 124.

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Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray Friday announced the BJP-led NDA coalition’s seat-sharing pact for the upcoming state polls.

Under the arrangement, the BJP will contest 150 of Maharashtra’s 288 assembly seats, while the Shiv Sena will field candidates from 124, the first time in their 30-year alliance that the latter has accepted fewer seats on its home turf.

The remaining 14 seats have been distributed among other allies.

Making the announcement, Fadnavis and Thackeray said both sides had made some compromises, adding that it was important that two brothers work together instead of getting into a clash of egos.

The two leaders, who had avoided media questions on the seat-sharing formula so far, addressed a joint press conference in Mumbai Friday, the final date for filing nominations.

“Whether it our is alliance partners, us, or the Shiv Sena, all of us had to compromise a bit,” said Fadnavis. “One has to compromise a bit if we have to go together and all of us have done that. I am confident that we will get elected with a huge mandate, one that no one has seen before.”

Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections too, when the two parties had announced their alliance, the leaders had said there could be some differences of opinion, but “the thread of Hindutva is what joins the BJP and Shiv Sena together”, he added.

Also read: Shiv Sena’s Aaditya Thackeray won’t be CM, but he is teaching Congress a lesson in politics

Situation has changed, says Thackeray

Ever since the Shiv Sena forged an alliance with the BJP in 1989, it has always had a higher share of seats in assembly elections than the BJP. Before the Lok Sabha elections, when the two on-off allies decided to once again join hands, the parties announced a 50-50 split of seats and posts for the assembly election.

However, the Shiv Sena has had to accept the role of a junior partner.

“The situation that was there before the Lok Sabha election is not the same anymore,” said Thackeray.

He added, “The first question was whether there will be an alliance. We have sorted that amicably. Now, rather than getting into a discussion of who is the elder brother and who is the younger brother, it is important that two brothers have nurtured their relationship and are going along together.”

The focus should not be on “what’s yours and what’s mine, but what is Maharashtra’s”, said Thackeray, whose son Aaditya is making his election debut with the assembly polls.

However, Thackeray did suggest that the question of the chief minister’s chair — a major bone of contention between the partners — was not settled yet.

The number of seats that both parties are contesting do not necessarily decide which party gets the chief minister’s post, he added. “Once we have allied with an open mind, the rest can be discussed.”

He said there was nothing wrong in Shiv Sainiks expressing a wish for his son, Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray, to become CM.

“Even Devendraji will agree,” Thackeray said, pointing to CM Fadnavis, who smiled in return.

The Shiv Sena chief, however, said that contesting an election was the first step for his son and he should be left to decide what his ambitions are, which “I’m sure would be to serve Maharashtra”.

Also read: There is ‘more give than take’ in alliance with BJP this time: Shiv Sena on seat division

Rebels will be dealt with strongly, says Fadnavis

The give-and-take between the BJP and the Shiv Sena has upset some leaders in both parties and there have been cases of rebellion.

For instance, Shiv Sena’s Rajul Patel filed her nomination as an Independent candidate from Versova against the NDA candidate, Bharati Lavekar, when her constituency went to the BJP’s quota. Similarly, former BJP corporator Murji Patel filed his nomination as an independent from the Andheri East constituency against NDA candidate Ramesh Latke of the Shiv Sena.

Fadnavis said “we will tell such leaders to withdraw their nominations”.

“If they still go ahead and rebel, the alliance will put up all its strength against them and they will never get a place in the alliance,” he added.

The BJP’s decision to drop five senior leaders and incumbent MLAs, namely, Vinod Tawde from Borivali, Prakash Mehta from Ghatkopar East, Raj Purohit from Colaba, Eknath Khadse from Muktainagar, and Chandrashekhar Bawankule from Kamthi, also came as a surprise.

Khadse, Mehta and Tawde had faced graft allegations as ministers in the Fadnavis cabinet. While Khadse was made to resign, and Mehta dropped without attributing a reason, the CM stripped Tawde of his portfolios bit by bit.

At the press conference, Fadnavis sought to play down the decision. “It will not be right to say that their tickets were cut. In a party, responsibilities keep changing and their responsibilities have now changed,” he said.

Also read: When Shiv Sena ministers were told to remove Raj Thackeray’s photos from their cabins


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