Talks over Lok Sabha (LS) seat sharing have begun between Uddhav Thackeray and the NCP, highly placed sources in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) have confirmed to the Free Press Journal. The second-rank leaders of both parties have held two meetings in the past one month. Maharashtra Congress, though, has not yet shown any alacrity.
While the Shiv Sena (UBT), NCP and Congress are the main MVA parties, CPI, CPM, Peasant and Workers Party, Samajwadi Party and Janata Dal United are the smaller forces. Also, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi recently joined hands with Thackeray. To keep the flock together and take on the mighty opponent BJP, MVA leaders want to start preparations at the earliest.
Senior members among both parties responsible for negotiation
The responsibility to conduct the talks has been given to Subhash Desai, Anil Desai, Anil Parab and Vinayak Raut from the Shiv Sena UBT camp, whereas from NCP it lies mainly with Jayant Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal.
A key part of primary discussions between Thackeray’s faction of the Shiv Sena and the NCP are socio-political equations on each LS seat. A senior Sena UBT leader aware about the development said, “Discussions include who could be the strong candidate on a seat, and which party has greater influence. Necessary data about each constituency is also being prepared and shared. This exercise could help gain clarity during seat sharing talks.”
Congress sidelined by both parties
When asked whether both parties are cornering Congress in the alliance, a senior NCP leader said that there is confusion over who from Congress should be roped in to discuss sensitive issues. “We have contacts with all Congress leaders but when it comes to alliance issues, we discussed it with Balasaheb Thorat as he is party leader in legislative houses. But even he said seat sharing talks need to be cleared by the leadership in Delhi.” He said that even leaders like Nana Patole and Ashok Chavan don’t yet have a go-ahead on poll preparations.
Another senior leader who is part of the preparatory meetings said that out of 48 LS seats in Maharashtra, the key alliance partners can easily come to a conclusion vis-à-vis 38-40 seats. “Serious conflicts lie only on eight to 10 seats. This can be decided by party chiefs,” he said.