Shiv Sena-BJP finalise seat-sharing deal for Maharashtra polls

As per the agreed formula, Shiv Sena will contest 169 of the 288 assembly seats and BJP the other 119, senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde told reporters.

In the 2004 elections, the Sena had contested 171 and the BJP 117. The alliance had jointly bagged 119 seats, compared to the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party's (NCP) tally of 139.

The BJP has reluctantly parted with the Guhagar seat in Ratnagiri district of the coastal Konkan region to the Sena, which has announced that Leader of Opposition Ramdas Kadam would be contesting the seat.

The seat had become a bone of contention between the two alliance partners, reportedly prompting intervention by Sena chief Bal Thackeray. However, Munde claimed that there was no dispute over the seat nor was it bargained against the Ghatkopar seat in northeast Mumbai.

He added that contrary to speculation, the nomination of Poonam Mahajan, widow of slain BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, has not been finalised from Ghatkopar so far.

Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, who was present at the press conference, said that his father Bal Thackeray would not campaign for the saffron combine during the elections.

"However, his blessings are with us and after our victory, he will join a victory rally," Udhav said.

Replying to a query, state BJP leader Nitin Gadkari said the Sena-BJP alliance would raise major issues like shortage of power in the state, the farmer suicides, growing state debts and inflation that has hit the common man severely.

"The parties would have a common election manifesto and carry out the campaign jointly," Gadkari said.

The BJP's first list of candidates would be announced in New Delhi later Saturday, he added.

The Sena-BJP seat-sharing understanding comes a week after the Third Front announced its plan to contest 200 seats.

Though the Congress-NCP have agreed in principle to fight the elections jointly, their seat-sharing formula has not yet been finalised. 

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