Mumbai: Leaders of a buoyant BJP in Maharashtra may be hoping for more seats to contest in upcoming state assembly polls but ally Shiv Sena does not seem to be in a mood to insist on continuing to play the role of “big brother” in state politics.
Though there has been no formal demand from BJP leaders, there is speculation in the state political circles that an aggressive BJP, after its impressive outing in Lok Sabha polls - it bagged 23 seats, compared to 18 by Sena—may insist on a bigger share.
In 2009 assembly polls, the alliance partners had stuck to the 171:117 formula, wherein Sena contested 171 and BJP 117 of the 288 seats in the Lower House in Maharashtra. BJP leaders are aware that if the formula, in force since the days of late Pramod Mahajan, considered the architect of the saffron alliance in the state, continues, then the chances of having a BJP chief minister may get slim. Senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde, in the forefront of cobbling up the Mahayuti grand opposition alliance ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, may be BJP's choice to lead the party's assembly poll battle.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, in Delhi today to attend NDA leaders' meeting, indicated his party may not concede to any demand to reduce the number of seats it had contested last time.
However, both the parties may be forced to allot some seats to the three other Mahayuti partners, in the assembly polls and the seat-sharing formula will change accordingly. Besides BJP and Sena, the Mahayuti comprises Raju Shetty's Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, Mahadeo Jankar's Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and Ramdas Athawale-led Republic Party of India (RPI).
State BJP president Devendra Fadnavis has tactfully voiced his party's desire to contesting more assembly seats. “In 24 Lok Sabha seats contested in Maharashtra, BJP leads in 133 assembly constituencies out of the 144 (assembly segments in these 24 LS seats,” he said.