Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Tuesday compared the sharing of 288 seats between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Sena to the partition between India and Pakistan. The current bone of contention between the two parties is the sharing of the seats ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly election.
"Maharashtra is a big state. The sharing of 288 seats is a bigger exercise than India-Pakistan partition. Had we sat in Opposition instead of being in govt the picture today would have been different," Raut told news agency ANI.
Raut went on to say that the Sena and the BJP are relaxed about the seat-sharing formula and a decision on the same would be informed by the coalition to the media soon.
"There is greater concern about the Shiv Sena-BJP coalition in the media than in our parties. We are relaxed. The leaders of both the parties are sharing positive discussions on seat-sharing for the election. Whatever will be the decision, we will inform the media shortly," ANI quoted him as saying.
According to sources, a late-night meeting between leaders of both the parties on Monday remained inconclusive. The sources said that differences remained between the two parties over 10 seats. A joint press conference, which was scheduled to be held on Tuesday, has been deferred until further information. However, attempts are still on from both sides to strike an alliance at the earliest.
Earlier reports had suggested that Shiv Sena had agreed to contest on 120-125 seats. This was a diversion from Shiv Sena’s initial stand on going for a 50:50 formula. In a bid to pressure the BJP, the NDA constituent had reportedly started interviewing candidates for all 288 constituencies, including Nagpur, which is the seat of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Currently, the BJP and the Shiv Sena have 122 and 63 seats, respectively, in Maharashtra Assembly.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had last week dismissed reports of a rift between the two parties, saying they would finalise the seat-sharing agreement for the upcoming Assembly election "very soon".
The two parties had fought the last Assembly polls in 2014 separately even though they were partners in the Central government. The two parties had earlier this year contested the Lok Sabha polls as allies and had swept the state securing 41 out of the 48 Lok Sabha seats.
Just like the Lok Sabha polls, the NDA constituents are banking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the main vote catcher, while the perceived clean image of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is said to be an additional factor.
Voting in Maharashtra is slated to take place on October 21 while the counting of votes will be held on October 24.