Maharashtra Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Mahayuti & MVA Struggle For Agreement Over Seat-Sharing

Maharashtra Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Mahayuti & MVA Struggle For Agreement Over Seat-Sharing

The NCP led by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar is extremely miffed since it has been offered only four seats in sharp contrast to the 19 seats in 2019.

S BalakrishnanUpdated: Saturday, March 16, 2024, 08:38 PM IST
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Maharashtra Lok Sabha Elections 2024 |

Mumbai: Even as the Election Commission of India (ECI) has announced a five-phase Lok Sabha election in Maharashtra with the polls in Mumbai scheduled for May 20 both the ruling Mahayuti and the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi are yet to arrive at seat-sharing agreements with their respective allies.

The NCP led by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar is extremely miffed since it has been offered only four seats in sharp contrast to the 19 seats in 2019. Of course, the party had split subsequently with Ajit Pawar revolting against his uncle and veteran leader Sharad Pawar.

Nevertheless, Pawar Jr feels that the offer of four seats is humiliating. Within the MVA too differences persist over Nashik and a few other seats. It is widely expected that the picture will become clear on Sunday.

Polls in the 48 seats have been divided into five  phases. In Phase  I polls will be held on April 19 at Ramtek, Nagpur, Bhandara-Gondia, Gadchiroli-Chimur and Chandrapur; Phase II on April 26 Buldhana, Akola, Amravati, Wardha, Yavatmal-Washi, Hingoli, Nanded and Parbhani will go to polls; Phase III on May 7 it will be the turn of Raigad, Baramati, Dharashiv, Latur, Solapur, Madha, Sangli, Satara, Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Kolhapur and Hatkangale; Phase IV on  May 13 Nandurbar, Jalgaon, Raver, Jalna, Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj Nagar, Maval, Pune, Shirur, Ahmednagar, Shirdi and Beed;  Phase V on May 20 all six seats of Mumbai, Dhule, Dindori, Nashik, Palghar, Bhiwandi, Kalyan and Thane.

The BJP under the leadership of deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis has already set up a war room to coordinate its campaign across the state.  It is banking heavily on PM Narendra Modi to mobilise votes for the party apart from the performance of the Mahayuti government itself.

It is expecting that a bulk of  Other Backward Castes (OBC) votes would come to it, while Maratha votes will be roped in by its allies, the Shiv Sena led by CM Eknath Shinde, who is a Maratha,  and the NCP of Ajit Pawar. While Fadnavis ensured that the Maratha reservation Act did not impinge on the OBC quota of 27 %, it also extended its full support to the Maratha reservation law.

Maratha activist Manoja Jarange Patil and NCP leaders Sharad Pawar and Supriya sule had targeted him consistently since he had engineered splits first in the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray and later in the NCP of Sharad Pawar.

But despite the heavy attacks, Fadnavis, who is now called Fodnavis (someone who breaks things) held his ground and ensured that Jarange Patil did not have his way. The announcement of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to find out who were behind Jarange Patil's heavily-funded agitation has put Sharad Pawar on the defensive since it is widely believed that he had masterminded the widespread agitation which threatened to spill into Mumbai. The Mahayuti is also keen on encashing on the mature leadership provided by CM Shinde.

The main battle will be fought in Baramati, which was regarded as a pocket borough of Sharad Pawar. He has fielded his daughter Supriya Sule once again and she will be opposed by Sunetra, a political novice  and wife of Ajit Pawar. The battle is actually one between Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit.

This is the first time that the uncle and nephew will be flexing their political muscle against each other and it will be interesting to see who bags the prestigious seat. Nashik is another seat which is witnessing considerable tumult. CM Shinde's son Shrikant, who is an M.P., unilaterally announced the name of Hemant Godse as the Shiv Sena candidate. This was resented by NCP's senior leader Chhagan Bhujbal who is keen on fielding his son, Pankaj. Nashik is Bhujbal home turf and he does not want anyone else to dictate terms to him there.

The contest in Nagpur, where the BJP has fielded Union minister Nitin Gadkari again, will be another keenly-watched seat. Gadkari enjoys tremendous goodwill among the people of Nagpur. He is also known for his close proximity to the leadership of the RSS which is headquartered in Nagpur.

Gadkari is not dependent on Modi to get himself elected and is confident of winning the seat on the basis of his track record as the man who led the infrastructure revolution pan India. Gadkari is regarded as an ``ajatshatru" (a man with no enemies). He is also very pro-business and enjoys the support of corporate India.

The Kolhapur constituency in western Maharashtra is currently under the control of Shiv Sena (UBT), which may consider giving up its claim considering that  the Congress has fielded its candidate Shahu Maharaj from here.

In return, Shiv Sena (UBT) has asked for the  Sangli seat.  But the Congress, which has a sizable presence in this western Maharashtra seat, is keen on fielding  Vishal Patil,  grandson of the late ex-CM Vasantdada Patil . This has led to a standoff between the two parties, with neither willing to back down.

In an attempt to find a resolution, Shiv Sena (UBT) has proposed exchanging the Sangli seat for Pune and Chandrapur seats. However, Congress has refused to give up the Pune seat as well. Furthermore, there are ongoing disputes between Congress and Shiv Sena (UBT) regarding the Ramtek seat.

The Kalyan seat will also witness a fierce contest with the Shiv Sena (UBT) making a prestige issue of removing sitting M.P. Shrikant Shinde, who is the son of CM Shinde. Shiv Sena (UBT) is extremely bitter with CM Shinde since the latter had revolted against him and along with 36 party MLAs joined hands with the BJP to form the Mahayuti government.

The BJP, which won the Pune seat in 2019, has fielded a Maratha leader Murlidhar Mohol from this prestigious seat. The Congress is now on the look out for a strong leader who can take on Mohol. Former legislator Mohan Joshi is in the forefront for the party ticket.

Thane also will witness an extremely interesting contest. Thane is the home turf of CM Shinde and he is keen on fielding a candidate to defeat sitting M.P. Rajan Vichare of the Shiv Sena (UBT).

Shinde is sore with Vichare since the latter is still loyal to Uddhav Thackeray.  If Vichare wins then it will be a huge political setback for CM Shinde and hence is going out of his way to ensure that his man wins in Thane.

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