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BJP-Shiv Sena first list for Maharashtra polls accommodates dozen Congress, NCP defectors

The BJP and Shiv Sena have finalised their nominations for 125 and 70 seats respectively for the 21 October Maharashtra assembly elections.

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Mumbai: A day after the BJP and Shiv Sena formally announced their alliance for the upcoming Maharashtra assembly elections, both parties Tuesday finalised their nominations for 125 and 70 seats respectively. Together, the two parties have accommodated a dozen turncoats who had recently switched over from the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

Party sources shared a joint statement signed by state BJP president Chandrakant Patil and Shiv Sena’s Subhash Desai, containing a list of 124 constituencies that will be contested by the Shiv Sena. Both parties are yet to officially announce their seat-sharing formula.

Anil Parab, Shiv Sena MLC and the party’s official spokesperson, said, “The Shiv Sena hasn’t released the statement so I cannot comment on it yet.”

The list, however, leaves 164 seats for the BJP, accommodating allies such as Ramdas Athavale’s Republican Party of India, the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and Shiv Sangram in its quota, party sources said.

Shiv Sena and the BJP had Monday released a joint statement signed by Patil and Desai confirming their alliance for the polls, but stopped short of disclosing the seat-sharing agreement. The Sena had earlier pushed for a 50-50 split of Maharashtra’s 288 assembly seats. But over the course of several discussions, the party had accepted a formula by which it would contest a lower number of seats than the BJP.

In the 2014 assembly elections, the two parties had splintered their alliance due to differences over seat-sharing and went on to contest independently. While the BJP won 122 seats that year, the Shiv Sena won 63. The Sena subsequently went on to join the Devendra Fadnavis-led government as a junior partner.

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Accommodating defectors

The BJP’s list of 125 candidates include 52 sitting legislators and half-a-dozen defectors. Even the Shiv Sena, which has since Sunday night issued AB forms (official nomination forms to contest elections on the party symbol) to 70 candidates, has given tickets to six new joinees, five of whom had crossed over from the Congress and NCP.

The BJP and Shiv Sena seem to have harmoniously split certain seats among themselves in order to keep defectors, who have walked into their respective parties, happy.

For instance, the Airoli, Akole and Shirdi seats are those where the Shiv Sena was in the number two position after the winning candidate from the opposition party. However, these seats have gone to the BJP’s quota where the party has nominated former NCP MLAs Sandip Naik and Vaibhav Pichad, and former Congress MLA Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil.

Similarly, the assembly constituencies of Guhagar, Beed, Sillod and Nalasopara were the ones where BJP was in the second place after the opposition in 2014. These seats have come to the Shiv Sena and the party has accommodated its new entrants here. The Guhagar and Beed nominations have gone to former NCP leaders Bhaskar Jadhav and Jaidutt Kshirsagar, the Sillod nomination to former Congress leader Abdul Sattar.

The Sena has nominated former IPS officer and encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma from Nalasopara. The party has also accommodated former NCP MLA Pandurang Barora by giving him a ticket from Shahpur, and former Congress MLA from Igatputi.

Besides, the BJP’s list also includes newly-inducted defectors such as former Congress leaders Kalidas Kolambkar and Harshwardhan Patil, and former NCP MLA Shivendrasinh Bhosale who traces his lineage to Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji.

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Senior leaders in Sena, BJP list

The BJP’s first list includes Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ candidature from his constituency of Nagpur South West as well as a nomination for the party’s state president Chandrakant Patil, the number two in the Fadnavis government, who until now was an MLC from Pune’s Kothrud assembly.

Similarly, the Shiv Sena’s first list includes Thackeray scion Aaditya Thackeray’s candidature from Worli.

While Shiv Sena’s Subhash Desai was negotiating the seat-sharing deal with BJP leaders, he could not secure his own constituency for himself. Desai, an industries minister in the Fadnavis cabinet, had contested the 2014 assembly elections from his traditional constituency of Goregaon, but lost to BJP’s Vidya Thakur. The BJP will retain the Goregaon seat and has renominated Thakur, a junior minister in the state cabinet, from here.

In the meanwhile, names of several senior incumbent and former ministers have been left out of the BJP’s first list of candidates. These include Eknath Khadse, who was seen as a challenger to Fadnavis and made to resign following charges of graft, Prakash Mehta who was recently dropped from the cabinet, and sitting cabinet ministers Vinod Tawde and Chandrashekhar Bawankule.

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