However, with the BJP returning to power at the Centre with a bigger mandate and the party confident of popular support after the Modi government's move to repeal provisions of Article 370, a section of the party leaders believes the terms of engagement with the ally should be renegotiated.
The BJP is keen to contest more number of seats than the Shiv Sena in the Maharashtra assembly elections in the view of the “changed” political scenario in the state, BJP sources said on Monday, expressing confidence that such a deal would be worked out. The two parties had in February agreed to fight an equal number of seats in the 288-member assembly, following talks between BJP president Amit Shah and Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray to seal their Lok Sabha seat-sharing arrangement.
However, with the BJP returning to power at the Centre with a bigger mandate and the party confident of popular support after the Modi government’s move to repeal provisions of Article 370, a section of the party leaders believes the terms of engagement with the ally should be renegotiated. State Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has emerged as the alliance’s foremost leader and enjoys support from all sections of society, a BJP leader said, adding that the Sena will have no other option but to agree to his party’s demand if the push comes to shove. The BJP may look to contest anywhere between 160-170 seats, he said.
So far there has been no official word from either of the party about the number of seats they want to contest. Both parties had fought independently in the 2014 polls after they could not reach a seat-sharing deal, with the BJP winning 122 and the Sena 63 seats. With the BJP playing second fiddle to its ally in the state polls till 2009 assembly elections, the Sena has found it hard to accept its once junior partner’s preeminent position in the state under Modi.
However, several BJP leaders are of the view that the Sena may agree to the BJP contesting the lion’s share of seats. Asked if the BJP may concede the deputy chief minister’s post to its ally to win it over, a party leader said such things can be negotiated only during talks between the two parties and a decision on the details of their pact will be made at the highest level. The assembly elections are due in the state later this year.