Considering a ‘Formula’ on Seat Sharing, Say BJP and Shiv Sena

After an exchange of tough words for days, leaders of the Shiv Sena and the BJP met in a residential complex in south Mumbai and emerged to say they are considering “a formula” on seat sharing, which has brought their alliance on the brink.

Shiv Sena chief Udhav Thackeray’s 24-year-old son, Aditya, became the first member of the family to attend a political meeting outside the Thackeray home Matoshree, when he, along with party leaders Subhash Desai and Anil met BJP leader OP Mathur.

It was the first meeting first between the two allies since an incensed BJP called off talks over Uddhav Thackeray’s sarcastic comment questioning a “Modi wave” last weekend.

Earlier in the day the BJP, after an internal meeting in Mumbai, said it wants its alliance with the Shiv Sena to continue.

The two parties have squabbled over seats before, but this time the crisis is deep and the alliance with the BJP is in trouble, senior Shiv Sena leaders have admitted.

The Shiv Sena is unhappy that the BJP wants to contest more seats in Maharashtra than it has traditionally done in their 25-year partnership. The Sena asserts its place as the senior partner in the state and dismisses the BJP’s argument that its superior performance in the national elections four months ago qualify it for more seats to contest.

Both sides have talked about self-respect. But beyond the rhetoric it is about hard numbers. There are 288 assembly seats to be shared among the parties in the “Mahayuti” as the alliance in called in Maharashtra.

The BJP had sent word that it wants to contest at least 130. Allowing for about 16 to 18 seats for their smaller allies, that will be far less than the 155 seats that the Shiv Sena is adamant it will contest. At stake is the post of chief minister – if the alliance wins the elections the partner with the most legislators will get that post

“There will be a rebellion within the Sena if the BJP formula is accepted… we are ready to discuss individual seats on merit, but the BJP can’t throw ballpark figures,” a top Sena leader said.