With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) aiming to play the ‘big brother’ in the alliance by keeping a larger share of the 288 seats, the Shiv Sena is looking for plan B – going solo – for the state polls in case the seat-sharing talks between the two fail.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray convened a meeting of party MPs, MLAs, divisional heads (vibhaag pramukhs) at his residence ‘Matoshree’ on Sunday to take stock of the preparation and vetted the list of probable candidates for all 288 seats.
A senior Sena functionary who was part of the meeting said, “Uddhavji discussed the poll plan for all regions, as we are in election mode now. As always, we have been asked to be prepared for any eventuality. Last time [in 2014] we were not ready, but this time we are better prepared, if the need arises.”
The Sena has been stressing on keeping the seat-sharing formula 50:50, as discussed earlier, which is leading to friction between the two ruling parties. Irked by statements by BJP leaders that the Sena could get fewer seats than the BJP, Thackeray had said the chief minister should decide the seats for the Sena as well.
Parleys have been conducted by second-rung leaders from both parties on the seat-sharing formula and now the discussion will commence between chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Thackeray, a Sena functionary said.
BJP MLC Prasad Lad has said the seat-sharing announcement could happen on September 19 in Nashik, in the presence of BJP national president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Yuva Sena chief and Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray, who is currently touring Konkan as part of his ‘Jan Aashirwad Yatra’, maintained they will go by the 50:50 formula announced by the chief minister while declaring the alliance in February. “The Shiv Sena has never betrayed anyone. We will go by what the chief minister said in the press conference. And later whatever orders the party president give us, we will follow it,” Aaditya told reporters.
The Sena has already started interviews of aspiring candidates for all the 288 Assembly seats. So far, interviews of candidates from western Maharashtra, Vidarbha and Marathwada have been conducted, while aspiring candidates from north Maharashtra and Konkan regions will be interviewed between September 16 and September 20.