Seat Wars: Maharashtra’s Political Alliances in Turmoil Ahead of Elections

Seat Wars

PC Alexander, the former Maharashtra governor, wrote in his book “Perils of Democracy” that political partnerships are frequently short-lived due to increasing conflicts among coalition partners. This observation is especially applicable in Maharashtra today, as both the government and the opposition are struggling with seat-sharing concerns ahead of the upcoming assembly elections.

Following the Lok Sabha elections, tensions have risen among the Mahayuti alliance. Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena, which contested on 16 seats and won seven, was only allocated a Minister of State (MoS) position in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet, which sparked public outrage among its members.

Similarly, Ajit Pawar’s NCP declined the role of Minister of State, seeking a full cabinet post. Senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal’s recommendation that the party aim to contest 80-90 seats in order to win at least 50 MLAs adds to the internal problems.

The BJP contested 164 of the 288 seats in the 2019 Maharashtra elections, while the Shiv Sena contested 126. Seat-sharing negotiations have grown more complicated now that Ajit Pawar’s NCP is also a part of the Mahayuti alliance in Maharashtra.

Previously, the unified NCP fought 121 seats, and both the Shiv Sena and the NCP are demanding a significant number of seats, refusing to compromise. There is even a possibility that the NCP will abandon the Mahayuti.

The RSS has slammed the BJP for allowing Ajit Pawar in the alliance, claiming it has harmed the party’s prestige.

Raj Thackeray has announced that his party, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), will compete independently in the Vidhan Sabha elections. However, it is still possible for the MNS to join the NDA before the elections. Despite the fact that the MNS did not participate in the Lok Sabha elections, Thackeray’s support for the BJP was interpreted as a reciprocal arrangement.

The opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) is also experiencing internal conflict.

The Congress has taken a more assertive stance since becoming the largest party in Maharashtra following the Lok Sabha elections. The Shiv Sena (UBT) and the NCP (Sharad Pawar) are furious by Maharashtra Congress head Nana Patole’s recent assertion that his party is the “Big Brother” in the MVA.

The Congress contested 147 seats in 2019. The present seat-sharing procedure inside the MVA is challenging, with tense relations between the Shiv Sena (UBT) and the Congress.

During the Lok Sabha elections, the Shiv Sena (UBT) announced its candidate for the Sangli seat separately, resulting in a split in which the Congress candidate contested independently and won. Similar disagreements arose during the MLC elections, with Nana Patole alleging that Uddhav Thackeray ignored his calls.

In a recent meeting with party members, Uddhav Thackeray urged them to prepare to compete for all 288 seats alone, indicating further split within the MVA.

Significant realignments are anticipated within both alliances in the near future. The BJP’s central leadership is likely to intervene in the Mahayuti disputes, while Sharad Pawar will play an important role in keeping the MVA united.