New Delhi: The BJP and the Shiv Sena on Friday formally announced their seat-sharing deal for the Maharashtra assembly elections scheduled for October 21.
At a joint press conference in Mumbai with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis exuded confidence and said the 'Mahayuti' alliance comprising BJP, Sena and other parties will get an unprecedented victory in the elections.
"Despite differences, the BJP and the Sena share a common thread of Hindutva," added Fadnavis. Both parties had earlier been locked in months of wrangling over the seat-sharing arrangement.
The Sena will contest from 124 of the 288 seats, announced Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at a joint press conference with Sena president Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai. The two parties had earlier this week finalised the arrangement.
"It will be 124(+2) for Shiv Sena, 14 for allies, and the rest for BJP," he said, indicating the BJP will fight on 150 seats. For Sena, it will be 124 Assembly seats and two Vidhan Parishad seats.
Answering questions on unequal seat distribution, Thackeray said, "Not everything is dependent on numbers. The atmosphere in the state has changed. We have maturely a taken decision about the alliance. Instead of the elder brother-smaller brother debate, the relation of the brothers is more important. We will work together."
"If Maharashtra is to be built, then we have to come together instead of infighting. If the Shiv Sainiks dream of something, I don't think there is anything wrong in it," he added. "If the first step of my son in active politics, then the next step can't be about the position he will get. His dream is to make Maharashtra prosperous."
Uddhav Thackeray's son Aditya Thackeray entered the press conference venue after Fadnavis began speaking. The chief minister quickly paused and welcomed Aaditya on the dais.
"Aaditya will join us in the Assembly within some time. Also, I need to make a special mention that he will win with the largest margin in Mumbai," said Fadnavis.
The Thackeray scion on Thursday morning filed his nomination papers from Worli. He will be the first from his family to debut on the political pitch ever since his grandfather Bal Thackeray founded the Shiv Sena.
Fadnavis also said that the rebellion in both the BJP as well as the Sena will be quelled within two days. "The rebels will be made to withdraw their nominations. And those who don't withdraw their nominations, will be shown their rightful place by us," he said.
Fadnavis said that the party's focus for the state will be on water conservation and measures to make it a drought-free region. "Our joint manifesto will come out in a few days, particularly for metros like Mumbai," he said, avoiding answering questions on the BJP's stand on a separate Vidarbha.
When asked about some sitting MLAs like Eknath Khadse and Vinod Tawde being denied tickets, Fadnavis said the party has a different responsibility in mind for them.
"Nobody has been dropped, they have only been reassigned responsibilities," he said.
"If you see our list, tickets have been mainly given party loyalists. Everybody wants our tickets. So there is lot of competition. We aren't afraid of anything. We will win by tremendous margin. People won't vote for rebels," Fadnavis added.
The agreement between the two parties was reportedly sealed after BJP president Amit Shah chaired a meeting of the party's core group from Maharashtra on September 30 to give final shape to its poll strategy and zero down on candidates for the assembly elections.
Both parties have been at loggerheads over the seat-sharing formula for the Assembly polls that Sena leaders say was agreed to before the Lok Sabha elections, where they had a pre-poll alliance.
According to the Thackeray-led party, this meant an equal distribution of seats and sharing of the chief minister's post for two-and-a-half years. Maharashtra has 288 Assembly seats, of which the BJP won 122 and the Sena 63 in the 2014 state polls, which they fought separately.
A few months later, the Sena joined the government-led by Fadnavis, the first BJP chief minister of the state. The Sena had been insisting on a 50:50 division of seats, but the BJP appeared to be not open to this deal.
(With inputs from PTI)