MUMBAI: The BJP is aiming for a clear majority in the 288-seat Maharashtra Assembly in the polls while keeping the alliance with Shiv Sena intact. State BJP president Chandrakant Patil indicated that the BJP would contest a bigger share of the seats.
A Shiv Sena insider said his party might settle for 40 seats less to keep the alliance intact.
While BJP president Amit Shah had directed party leaders to conclude the seat-sharing agreement, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray said any deal would be sealed only between him, Shah and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Fadnavis, on the other hand, had clearly stated that alliance with the Shiv Sena and others would be sealed after discussing all seats. He had also said that one or two seats would be exchanged. However, a section in the party wants the BJP to fight all on its own.
According to reliable sources, while two rounds of meetings between Fadnavis and Thackeray and senior Sena leader Subhash Desai and Chandrakant Patil have already taken place, most of the finer aspects of the alliance have already been discussed and the final announcement is just a formality.
While the BJP is planning to give at least 25 to 30 seats to the MLAs from opposition parties who are joining the party now, the Shiv Sena too is likely to take the same route to boost its numbers. Before 2014, Shiv Sena was the bigger partner in the alliance contesting 171 seats while the BJP contested 117 seats. In 2014 BJP had left 20 seats for its smaller allies and won 122 seats.
Bahujan Vikas Aghadi MLA from Palghar district, Vilas Tare, has joined the Shiv Sena while two NCP leaders, former minister Bhaskar Jadhav from Konkan area and Barshi (Solapur) MLA Dilip Sopal, could also defect. Speculations about former NCP minister Padmasinh Patil and his son Rana Jagjeet Sinha Patil joining the BJP, too, were rife.