Mumbai: A day after the NDA constituents, the Bhartiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena, finalised a pre-poll deal for the 2019 Lok Sabha and Maharashtra assembly elections, suspense continued over the latter’s demand on Tuesday for the Chief Minister’s post. Yuva Sena President Aditya Thackeray, the son of Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, already gave clear indications late on Monday that the party may not compromise on the CM’s post.
Reportedly nurturing high-level political ambitions, he said: “Both the parties will fight an equal number of seats (in the assembly elections) and irrespective of seats won, will share power and posts of equal time.” This has been interpreted as a possibility of rotating the CM’s post between the two allies – if they are voted to power, and the likelihood of creating the post of Deputy Chief Minister.
During the first saffron alliance government of 1995-1999, the practice had been successfully implemented, with Shiv Sena’s Manohar Joshi as Chief Minister and the BJP’s (late) Gopinath Munde as the Deputy CM, who continued even after Narayan Rane replaced Joshi. Last week, the Sena had growled at the BJP, claiming it has always been, continues to be and will always remain the ‘Big Brother’ of the alliance in Maharashtra. Later, it said the BJP should leave the CM’s post to its allies and concentrate on the post of Prime Minister. The BJP did not react on both counts.
As per the arrangement sealed on Monday, the BJP-Sena will contest the 48 Lok Sabha seats on a 25:23 basis, with BJP President Amit Shah confident that they would bag 45 seats. However, the exact parliamentary constituencies to be contested by both the partners and other allies, is currently being discussed.
In 2014, the BJP had contested 26 seats and bagged 23; the Shiv Sena contested 22 seats and bagged 18; and its ally, Swabhimani Party, secured one during the ‘Modi wave’. The Opposition Congress bagged a measly two and the NCP a modest four seats. For the 288-member state Assembly, according to plans, the BJP-Sena alliance would leave aside the requisite number of seats for other smaller allies and from the balance, contest an equal number. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has also said that “posts would be shared equally”.
In 2014, when the alliance had split, the BJP contested all 288 assembly seats and bagged 122, the Sena also contested all seats and won 63. The BJP formed the government as the single largest party, and two months later, the Sena walked over from the Opposition benches to the ruling side.