Maha polls date announced; major players yet to finalise seats
Mumbai: The Election Commission’s today’s announcement of holding Assembly polls in Maharashtra on October 15 is likely to see the state’s two major political alliances scramble to iron out differences and finalise seat-sharing pacts that have proved elusive so far.
With just 33 days to go for polling, Congress-NCP combine, ruling the state for the last 15 years, has failed to finalise a seat-sharing formula and the two parties have separately launched their poll campaign.
While Congress kicked off its poll campaign in Mumbai on September 1, NCP did it on September 6 and is holding a campaign rally at Kolhapur on September 16.
Despite claims of “all is well”, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, which hopes to wrest Maharashtra after a spectacular triumph in Lok Sabha polls, has not been able to come to an agreement over the number of seats the two parties would contest along with other constituents of “Mahayuti’ (grand alliance).
The Mahayuti had won 42 of state’s 48 Lok Sabha seats, decimating the ruling coalition as NCP won four and Congress just two in their worst-ever showing.
Top leaders of Congress and NCP held talks in Delhi last month on seat sharing but there has been no joint announcement yet on the outcome though Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said it would be made soon. NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said it was likely in three days.
Some state-level leaders of Congress and NCP recently spoke of going it alone if the alliance does not materialise. NCP has been insisting on equal number of seats keeping in mind its better performance in Lok Sabha polls, but Congress appears in no mood to part with more than 10-15 additional seats. Congress had contested 174 seats in the last Assembly polls and NCP 114.
The ‘Mahayuti’ comprising BJP, Shiv Sena, RPI(A), Raju Shetty’s Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and Mahadev Jankar’s Rashtriya Samaj Paksha has also failed to resolve its differences on seat sharing.
Though, Mahayuti leaders maintain that a mutually acceptable formula would be worked out soon, BJP sources said the “adamant” stance of some smaller parties in the alliance was delaying the finalisation of seats.