Business Standard

In Maha deal, Uddhav’s Sena gets lion’s share, Cong takes back seat


The Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) on Tuesday announced its seat-sharing formula for Maharashtr­a’s 48 Lok Sabha seats, with the Congress ceding the pole position to the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT).

The arrangemen­t suggested that the MVA allies had factored in the challenges that lie beyond the Lok Sabha elections counting day on June 4, especially the Maharashtr­a Assembly polls in October and the imminent civic polls in the state.

The Lok Sabha polls will be held in the state in five phases from April 19 to May 20.

While the Shiv Sena (UBT) gets the major chunk of 21 seats, the Congress will contest 17 and 10 seats go to the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalis­t Congress Party, NCP (SP). Despite protests from within the party, the Congress will field its candidates on only two of the six MPS that India’s financial capital, Mumbai, sends to Parliament. The Congress gave up its claims on Sangli and Bhiwandi seats as well, which the Sena (UBT) and NCP (SP) will respective­ly contest.

According to Mumbai-based academicia­n and political observer Vijay Kunjir, the Congress stepping back and allowing the Sena (UBT) to take the lead in the Lok Sabha fight was a sign of the national party’s enlightene­d self-interest.

“The Congress lacks the wherewitha­l and the resources needed to fight a long-drawn electoral battle,” he said. In 2019, the Congress contested 25 seats, winning only one.

The Sena (UBT), on the other hand, is in a better shape to put up a stronger fight against Maharashtr­a Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena in the party’s stronghold­s in Mumbai, Konkan, and Thane.

“Sena (UBT) lost the undivided Sena’s leaders to the Shinde group, but the party’s structures, the ‘shakhas’, remain with Uddhav Thackeray. Its getting the lion’s share of seats sends a message to its workers and supporters that the party remains fighting fit despite the setbacks of the past two years and will battle the Assembly and civic elections hard,” Kunjir said.

Accused of surrenderi­ng to the Sena, Congress state unit chief Nana Patole defended the party’s decision as “large-hearted” to achieve the objective of defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “We took a step back, but did not surrender,” Patole said. The party’s Sangli unit will hold a meeting on Wednesday. The Mumbai unit is also upset that the Congress isn’t contesting at least three seats in the city.

Pawar, Thackeray, and Patole announced the poll pact after weeks of hectic negotiatio­ns. Pawar and Thackeray also defended the seat-sharing formula, which they said was aimed at the larger objective of defeating the BJP. Given that Sena (UBT) lacks an electoral footprint across Maharashtr­a, the Congress is likely to reclaim its lead position in the alliance for the Maharashtr­a Assembly polls. Last week, the Congress expelled its former MP Sanjay Nirupam after he protested the party ceding seats to SS (UBT).

 ?? PHOTO: PTI ?? (From left) Maharashtr­a Congress President Nana Patole, Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray, and NCP (SP) chief Sharad Pawar, in Mumbai on Tuesday
PHOTO: PTI (From left) Maharashtr­a Congress President Nana Patole, Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray, and NCP (SP) chief Sharad Pawar, in Mumbai on Tuesday

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India