Battlelines drawn in Maharashtra as Sena-BJP seals deal

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announces an alliance between Shiv Sena and BJP for Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, in Mumbai, Monday, Feb 18, 2019. Also seen are (R-L) Union Ministers Piyush Goyal and Prakash Javadekar, state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve, BJP President Amit Shah, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, former state chief minister Manohar Joshi and Sena youth leader Aditya Thackeray. (PTI Photo)

Battlelines were drawn in Maharashtra, with the BJP and Shiv Sena ironing out differences and sealing a comprehensive seat-sharing arrangement on Monday.

As per the deal, of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, the BJP will contest 25 seats and Shiv Sena 23.

With regard to the polls to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly — that has 288 seats — later this year, the BJP and Shiv Sena will share a 50:50 ratio after allotting seats to the other NDA allies.

The new formula was arrived at during a meeting of the leaders of the two saffron allies led by BJP president Amit Shah and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.

“There were differences, we have sorted those out and decided to contest the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha polls together,” Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said.
Shah and Thackeray termed it a “new beginning”, and said the differences have been ironed out and bitter experiences buried.

“We will form the government at the Centre under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi... we will also come to power in Maharashtra,” Shah said. Shah extended the olive branch on Valentine’s Day by speaking to Thackeray over the phone and on Monday evening, flew down to 
Mumbai.

Related development

In a related development, the Congress and the Sharad Pawar-led NCP, that is firming up a ‘mahagathbandhan’, announced its first joint rally on Wednesday, which would be addressed, among others, by Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Pawar.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi is expected to address a rally in Dhule on March 1. Later, a visit by Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi has also been planned.

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