Divisions Evident Among MVA Partners Over CM Face, Constituency Distribution

Divisions Evident Among MVA Partners Over CM Face, Constituency Distribution

Though all three partners of the MVA are avoiding any direct comments against each other on camera, insiders say there is some friction likely when they sit for the seat-sharing talks

Rohit ChandavarkarUpdated: Wednesday, July 03, 2024, 03:23 AM IST
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NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray | File Photo

The high strike rate the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) members achieved in the recent Lok Sabha polls may have worked as a shot in the arm for the Opposition in Maharashtra, but it has also given them confidence to such an extent that they are now seen getting into disputes with each other over several issues such as who should be the future chief ministerial face, and about several constituencies in the state. The MVA partners may have put up a united face before the media in Mumbai recently but some leaders now describe how there are disagreements among its constituents over key constituencies especially in key cities such as Mumbai.

The fissures were evident on Tuesday at Vidhan Bhavan where in a sudden move Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena asked party secretary Milind Narvekar to file nomination for the MLA polls of July 12. As things stand in the assembly the MVA has a quota of barely two seats. NCP founder Sharad Pawar wanted one seat of this quota to be given to the Peasants & Workers Party (PWP); however, Uddhav went ahead with his own choice of candidate making a contest inevitable on the 12th. A similar thing happened during the Lok Sabha polls in Western Maharashtra’s Sangli constituency where Uddhav insisted that his party will contest the seat there. Uddhav gave the party ticket to wrestler Chandrahar Patil who lost the polls and Vishal Patil, originally a Congressman who contested as an independent, won with a comfortable margin.

Shiv Sena (UBT) group insiders say Uddhav has asked the party leaders to test the waters in over 150 constituencies in the state. While the broad understanding at the MVA meet in Mumbai was that each of the three partners of MVA shall fight about 95 seats, many wonder why Shiv Sena (UBT) is doing a survey in 150 constituencies. Last week Shiv Sena’s firebrand spokesperson Sanjay Raut announced that Uddhav Thackeray would be the MVA’s face for the Chief Minister’s position during the assembly polls campaign. NCP founder Sharad Pawar was quick to come out with a clarification saying there will be no pre-decided CM face in the MVA. “We will fight the polls with the combined strength of all MVA partners. There will be joint responsibility. There is no such thing as a CM face as of now,” Sharad Pawar told the media in Pune. The disagreement over the subject of “CM face” became very obvious. Sharad Pawar downplayed the differences and said that there is coordination between the MVA partners over every subject.

There are also some differences between the Congress party and Shiv Sena (UBT); these are mainly over the constituencies in Mumbai Metropolitan Region or MMR. Uddhav Thackeray now insists that he wants maximum MMR seats while the Congress party feels that they have to retain their presence in the Mumbai MMR region. The Congress candidate won Mumbai North Central in the Lok Sabha polls. The Congress party wants to retain their base in North Central and North West which were the party’s stronghold areas previously. The broad understanding between the MVA partners is that Shiv Sena (UBT) should take maximum seats in Konkan, Thane and Marathwada region, the Congress party should take maximum seats in Vidarbha region, while Sharad Pawar’s NCP should focus on western Maharashtra. The Congress has started preparations in some districts of Vidarbha region where party state president Nana Patole comes from. But the party also has started ground work in districts of western Maharashtra like Pune and Sangli.

Sources in Sharad Pawar’s NCP said their party has opened backchannel communication with Shiv Sena (UBT) about the exact seat distribution in Western Maharashtra so that there is no repetition of what happened in Sangli during the Lok Sabha polls. Though all three partners of the MVA are avoiding any direct comments against each other on camera, insiders say there is some friction likely when they sit for the seat-sharing talks. The simple principle to be followed according to sources is that if MVA gets a majority, then whichever party wins the maximum number of seats in the assembly shall claim the Chief Minister’s position. In Vidarbha Congress activists put up posters of state president Nana Patole portraying him as the next CM. It is obvious that the issue of “future CM face” is causing some fissures and stress in the MVA partners.

Rohit Chandavarkar is a senior journalist who has worked for 31 years with various leading newspaper brands and television channels in Mumbai and Pune

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