Amit Shah Holds Late-Night Meet On Maharashtra Seat Tangle, Talks Positive: Sources

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Amit Shah Holds Late-Night Meet On Maharashtra Seat Tangle, Talks Positive: Sources

Of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the BJP wants 30, said sources.

Mumbai:

Finalising seat-sharing in Maharashtra, which sends the second-highest number of MPs to the Lok Sabha, has proven to be tricky for the National Democratic Alliance, with all three key partners – the BJP, Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena and Ajit Pawar’s NCP – pushing for a higher number of seats than the others are willing to concede. With BJP’s chief troubleshooter and Union Home Minister Amit Shah holding a late-night meeting on Tuesday with leaders of the other parties, sources said a breakthrough is expected soon.

Party sources said the meeting started around 10.15 pm and Mr Shah held a discussion with Deputy Chief Minister Pawar in the presence of BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for the first 30 minutes, after which the two leaders left. The next 50 minutes saw talks between the Home Minister and Chief Minister Shinde. 

Of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the BJP wants 30 to be able to achieve its twin targets of winning 370 seats nationally and taking the NDA to the 400 mark. Sources said the party is willing to leave 12 seats from the Shiv Sena and six for the NCP, a prospect the other partners of the Mahayuti – as the alliance is known in Maharashtra –  are not happy with. 

Pointing out that the Sena symbol and name are with him, Chief Minister Shinde, sources said, has been pushing to be allocated 23 seats, the same number that the undivided Shiv Sena had contested in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls – before the split in 2022. Failing that, Mr Shinde and his party are reportedly ready to settle for 18 seats, which the Shiv Sena had won in the last Lok Sabha elections.

The BJP’s division of constituencies with the then Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena had caused heartburn on both sides even in 2019. The national party had contested 25 seats and won 23 while the Sena had contested 23 and won 18. The BJP camp, sources said, believes it is entitled to a larger share than last time given PM Narendra Modi’s popularity and the fact that it is the single-largest party in the Maharashtra Assembly. 

Complicating matters, however, is the entry of Ajit Pawar’s NCP, which joined the government last year and is pushing for 10 Lok Sabha seats. The then Sharad Pawar-led united NCP had only won four in 2019.

Contentious Seats

Sources said while a consensus is emerging on most other seats, 10 are proving to be a bone of contention. These are Kalyan, South Mumbai, Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Shirur, Amravati, Sambhajinagar Nagar, Hingoli, Nashik, Ramtek and Maval

In Kalyan, Chief Minister Shinde’s son, Shrikant Shinde is the sitting MP, but the local unit of BJP wants to contest from the constituency. The BJP claims Kalyan is a traditional seat of the party which it had given to Shiv Sena in 2019 under pressure from Uddhav Thackeray. Union Minister Anurag Thakur had also conducted a review of the constituency and apprised the central leadership.

Arvind Sawant of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) is the sitting MP from the South Mumbai constituency and the Shinde faction is keen to contest on it because it is traditionally a Sena seat. Assembly Speaker Rahul Narvekar from the BJP has, however, also shown interest.

In Pune district’s Maval, Shrirang Barne from the Shinde Sena is the sitting MP.  But Ajit Pawar is keen on this seat as his son, Parth Pawar, had lost to Mr Barne in 2019.

Ratnagiri-Sindhadurg in the Konkan region is a Shiv Sena seat but Narayan Rane claimed it for the BJP last week in a post on X. Strongly opposing this, Ramdas Kadam of the Shinde Sena had asked whether the BJP wanted to eliminate every party and contest the Lok Sabha election alone. 

Shirur in Pune district has proven to be another point of friction. Amol Kolhe from the NCP (Sharadchanrd Pawar) is the sitting MP and the seat is now being claimed by the Ajit Pawar faction. The intent to beat Mr Kolhe has been announced by Mr Pawar himself, but former MP Shivaji Adhalrao Patil from Mr Shinde’s Shiv Sena is also keen on throwing his hat in the ring. 

Navneet Rana is the independent MP from Vidarbha’s Amravati and the BJP has offered the constituency to her to contest on its ticket. The Shinde Sena’s Anandrao Adsul, a former MP, has also claimed the seat. 

Sambhaji Nagar in Aurangabad is the lone seat won by the AIMIM in Maharashtra and Imtiaz Jaleel is the sitting MP. Though the constituency has been traditionally fought by the Shiv Sena, which plans to field Minister Sandeepan Bhumre, the BJP wants it for Union Minister of State for Finance, Bhagwat Karad.

A seat which is being eyed by all three members of the Mahayuti is Nashik. Hemant Godse from the Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena is the sitting MP, but the NCP is keen on fielding someone from Minister Chhagan Bhujbal’s family and the BJP has also staked claim. 

In Aurangabad’s Hingoli, Sena’s Hemant Patil is the sitting MP and had offered to resign during the Maratha reservation protest. The BJP is also, however, interested in fielding its candidate.

Krupal Tumane of the Sena is the sitting MP from Ramtek in Nagpur seat but the local BJP cadre want the constituency for the party. They are, however, willing to settle for Mr Tumane fighting on a BJP ticket, sources said. 

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