Ahead of Maharashtra assembly elections, smaller allies demand more seats from BJP-Shiv Sena

After success in Lok Sabha elections the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has gained unprecedented momentum ahead of the Maharashtra assembly elections to be held in October, with the BJP-Shiv Sena coming close to replicating its performance in the 2014 general elections by winning 41 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state. But the smaller allies of the BJP and Shiv Sena have started to demand more seats.

According to the Hindustan Times, the BJP and the Shiv Sena did not give a single seat to their allies in the Lok Sabha polls but had promised to accommodate them in the Assembly polls. The Shiv Sena-BJP has a pact that they will leave 18 seats for their allies and contest the remaining in equal numbers. The Rayat Kranti Sanghatana headed by State minister Sadabhau Khot has demanded 10 seats. Another minister Mahadev Jankar, who is the chief of Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP), which has a good following among the Dhangar community, wants 15 seats for his party. Union minister Ramdas Athawale, who heads the Republican Party of India (RPI-A), said he wanted 10 seats if there was a BJP-Sena alliance or 26 if they fail to tie up.

The BJP, meanwhile, said the interests of the allies would be protected. “We will treat them with all respect and honour. We will ensure they get good representation in the next Assembly,” BJP spokesperson Madhu Chavan told the Hindustan Times.

The combined vote share of the BJP and the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra has crossed 50% for the first time ever, while that of the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has dropped to its lowest ever. The contest for the assembly elections will be of interest as this time the political alignments are different. The BJP and Shiv Sena had fought a bitter battle during the 2014 assembly elections, winning 122 and 63 seats, respectively of the total 288 seats in the state legislature. The Congress had won 42 and the NCP 41.

This time, the Shiv Sena and the BJP will form an alliance for the assembly elections, as they did for the Lok Sabha polls. The two parties will equally share the seats in the assembly after the smaller allies of the coalition, such as RPI (Ramdas Athawale) and Rashtriya Samaj Paksha are accommodated. However, which party the post of chief minister will go to if the coalition wins is yet to be decided.

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