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Maharashtra elections: Congress defections add fresh twist to BJP-Shiv Sena tussle over seat-sharing

Shashank Shantanu
Maharashtra elections, Maharashtra election dates, Amit Shah, Uddhav Thackeray, BJP

Maharashtra Assembly election 2019: Dates for Maharashtra Assembly elections are likely to be announced in a day or two, but the ruling alliance of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena is yet to finalise the formula for seat-sharing. If reports are to be believed, the two old allies are not only divided over the number of seats that they want to contest, but also over the chief minister's chair.

While the BJP is in no mood to change incumbent Devendra Fadnavis as its CM face, the Shiv Sena is said to be contemplating over projecting young face Aditya Thackeray for the top post.

Reports said that while both the parties have agreed to leave 18 seats of the total 288 for smaller alliance partners, a decision over their own share of seats it to be formalised. A 50:50 seat-sharing formula appears to be the most likely pact between the two saffron parties, however, the state unit of the BJP is said to be against it.

The Shiv Sena, which had intensively criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run-up to the Lok Sabha election 2019 and had to bury its stance only after the BJP got an overwhelming victory, seems to have hit the 'opposition' mode yet again before the state polls.

Recent editorials in party mouthpiece 'Saamana' openly mocked Industry and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over their recent remarks. Goyal's gaffe of 'Einstein discovered gravity', and Sitharaman's statement blaming the 'millenials' for the downturn in auto sector, saw the Modi government at the receiving end of intense criticism from all quarters.

Also Read: Listen to Manmohan Singh on economic slowdown: Shiv Sena tells BJP

More recently, Shiv Sena also slammed the government over the issue of cutting of over 2,000 trees in Mumbai's Aarey Colony for construction of Metro car shed. PM Narendra Modi had visited Mumbai last week to lay the foundation stone for the project.

Speaking during the event, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had described the alliance with BJP as 'atal' (strong or inevitable) and said that the NDA alliance was certain to retain power in the state.

Also Read: Shiv Sena-BJP alliance is 'atal', will retain power in Maharashtra: Uddhav Thackeray

Congress, NCP leaders joining BJP add to party's headache

Ahead of the Maharashtra polls, leaders from opposition Congress and Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have been joining the BJP in hordes. This has now added to BJP's headache. The party is sure to have a tough time in accommodating them all while distributing poll tickets. NCP strongmen Ganesh Naik, who was with the party since almost two decades and Udayanraje Bhosale have joined the BJP serving a blow to Sharad Pawar's party ahead of the assembly polls.

From the Congress, Harshvardhan Patil, Kalidas Kolambkar and Jaykumar Gore have joined the BJP, while MLAs Nirmala Gavit, Bhausaheb Kambale and Abdul Sattar have opted for Shiv Sena. Kripashankar Singh, former Mumbai Congress president who enjoys huge support in some areas of the capital city, has also quit the party and said to be in talks to the BJP leadership.

With dates for Assembly elections expected to be out soon, Maharashtra's political potpourri is likely to be stirred with plenty of developments in the coming days.