Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said that the BJP should respect the 50:50 seat-sharing formula decided ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Maharashtra Assembly election 2019 date is set to be announced any day now and the Shiv Sena has stepped up the pressure on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over a seat-sharing pact for the upcoming polls. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Thursday backed Transport minister and senior party leader Diwakar Raote’s statement that the BJP should respect the 50:50 seat-sharing formula decided ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Raut said there was nothing wrong with what Raote had said on Wednesday.
“BJP will have to respect the fifty-fifty formula that was decided in presence of Amit Shah and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. I am not talking of breaking alliance but what Diwakar Raote has said is not wrong,” he said.
Raote is a senior Shiv Sena leader and a minister in the Devendra Fadnavis government. On Wednesday, he did not rule out the possibility of his party contesting the upcoming Maharashtra assembly elections on its own if the party is denied 50 per cent seats as per the seat-sharing arrangement with the BJP.
“The alliance with the BJP was formalised earlier this year on the (promise of) relocation of the Nanar refinery out of the Konkan region and equal sharing of (144) seats (between the Sena and the BJP). If that does not happen, I doubt whether the alliance will stay,” he had said.
Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in April-May this year, BJP president Amit Shah had met his Shiv Sena counterpart Uddhav Thackeray in the presence of CM Devendra Fadnavis to finalise the seat-sharing pact. It was then that Fadnavis had announced that the parties will field candidates on equal number of seats in the Assembly elections. The move was seen as an attempt by Shah to apcify Thackeray who had been acting like the NDA’s in-house opposition and had become extrmely critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP and the Shiv Sena had fallen out over seat-sharing talks in the 2014 Assembly elections and contested separately. The BJP had won 122 seats and the Sena 63. The two parties, however, signed a post-election pact to form a government in the state after the hung verdict. This time, the two parties have been insisting that they should contest together.
In the Lok Sabha elections held this year, the BJP contested 25 seats and won 23 seats. The Shiv Sena had fielded candidates on the remaining 23 seats and pocketed 18 seats. After BJP’s landslide victory in the general elections, the BJP wants to keep a larger share of the seats after keeping aside 18 of the 288 seats for smaller allies. However, the Shiv Sena is pushing for 50-50 seat-sharing formula announced by Fadnavis in February. If the BJP agrees to the Shiv Sena’s demand, it means that the two parties will contest 135 seats each.
According to sources, a PTI report said, Sena might accept contesting from 120 seats. Notably, Thackeray had recently said in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that alliance with the BJP was inevitable.
The state is slated to go polls next month. The BJP and Shiv Sena alliance are facing a direct contest from the NCP-Congress combine which have already announced they will contest the elections together. Sharad Pawar-led NCP released its first list of five candidates on Wednesday. The NCP and Congress will contest on 125 seats each.