The Shiv Sena-Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) combine had drawn up a grand alliance with four smaller parties ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, a move which contributed to their success. However, now each ally is demanding its pound of flesh in the form of seats for the state Assembly polls.
Mahadev Jankar of the Rashtriya Samaj Paksh (RSP) who contested from Baramati against MP Supriya Sule is demanding 59 of the state’s 288 seats, besides a Rajya Sabha seat. “We have demanded 59 seats but are hoping for at least 20. We need to have 12 MLAs in the assembly to be recognised as a national party,” Mr Jankar said, after a round of seat-sharing talks on Monday.
Dalit leader Ramdas Athavale’s Republic Party of India (RPI) is hoping for at least 30 seats. “That is the least that we expect in the alliance,” said Sumant Gaikwad of the RPI. The saffron alliance will also have to accommodate MP Raju Shetti’s Swabhimani Shetkari Paksh and Vinayak Mete’s Shiv Sangram party.
The alliance is hoping to finalise seat distribution by August 15th when the Code of Conduct for the polls comes into force. It plans to have a joint manifesto between the six parties and take joint rallies for the state polls.
When asked about the demands raised by the allies, State BJP President Devendra Fadnavis said, “They are all mature parties and discussion have just begin. The main criteria for seat distribution is winnability.”
As it is the seat distribution between the two main allies is set to undergo a change. The BJP which contested 119 seats to the Shiv Sena’s 169 in 2009, is demanding more seats on account of its Lok Sabha victory. “Our talks are taking place in a congenial atmosphere and seat distribution will be declared soon,” said Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai.