Seat-sharing squabbles bedevil MVA unity efforts in Maharashtra

A senior NCP-SP leader admits that left to the state level, the seat-sharing talks may result in much bad blood – with potential ramifications for the MVA’s unity and poll prospects.

Mumbai: The dawn of 2024 will herald the much-anticipated Lok Sabha election year for which all political parties in India — whether ruling or in the Opposition, at the Centre or in the states – are earnestly preparing for and aiming for victory at all costs.

Subhan Bakery Instagram

In Maharashtra, the ruling Shiv Sena, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Nationalist Congress Party (AP) as well as the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance of the Congress, Shiv Sena (UBT) and Nationalist Congress Party (SP), and their respective allies/partners, are raring to lunge at each other’s political jugular vein and go for the electoral kill.

While the BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh has the highest Lok Sabha seats (80), Maharashtra is next with (48), West Bengal (42), Bihar (40), Tamil Nadu (39), Madhya Pradesh (29), Karnataka (28), Gujarat (26), Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan (25 each) and Odisha (21) constituencies.

MS Education Academy

The BJP state President Chandrashekhar Bawankule has already set an ambitious goal to bag “at least 45 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats” here along with allies, amid sniggers from the Opposition.

On the other side, the Congress with just one seat (Chandrapur) in the current Lok Sabha, is hobbling into the 2024 big race with highly emasculated partners, the SS-UBT and NCP(SP) after they suffered vertical splits in June 2022 and July 2023, respectively.

Despite the stark drawbacks, the MVA parties manage to put up a brave front, with Congress state President Nana Patole boldly setting a target to win at least 35 seats along with SS-UBT and NCP (SP).

Easier said than done, as some leaders cautiously concede, given the ‘posturing’ by the partners ahead of the crucial seat-sharing talks likely to be taken up soon.

For instance, of the 48 seats, Congress leaders stake a claim to contest from 24, while SS-UBT MP Sanjay Raut is eyeing 25 seats, but the NCP(SP) has kept mum on the numbers it desires to contest.

A SS-UBT leader said that tentative formulae are being considered, like the Congress 18, NCP-SP and SS-UBT 15 each, or 16 seats each for the three top partners, or 15 each with 3 seats left for smaller parties, or a similar permutation-combination without resulting in an avoidable bloodshed among the allies.

However, after the recent outcome in the five state Assembly polls and the INDIA bloc meeting which decided to finalise the national-level seat-sharing by the year-end or early-January 2024, the MVA seems to have sobered up to the ground realities.

Now, the partners are talking of ‘realistic’ demand for seats in the state, setting ‘achievable’ targets and adopting an ‘inclusive’ attitude towards the smaller/weaker partners in the MVA.

They are also wary about the potential ‘party-poopers’ like Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA), Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) who may enter the fray in a big way and create headaches in certain key constituencies that would prove advantageous to the BJP-plus-allies.

Incidentally, while the MNS is perched on the fence, the VBA and AIMIM have openly offered to jump onto the INDIA bandwagon, but so far they have been kept at a safe distance.

The VBA, led by Prakash Ambedkar, which allied with SS-UBT last year, has already threatened to contest all 48 seats solo, if it’s kept out of the INDIA bloc.

A senior NCP-SP leader admits that left to the state level, the seat-sharing talks may result in much bad blood – with potential ramifications for the MVA’s unity and poll prospects.

However, he expressed optimism that despite the current ‘stances’ of the MVA allies, ultimately seniors like Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray and Mallikarjun Kharge would succeed in ironing out the differences amicably – well before the Election Commission of India (ECI) sounds the poll bugle.

Back to top button