New Delhi: The BJP and the Shiv Sena will contest the upcoming Maharashtra elections together, sources told CNN-News18 on Thursday. Both parties over the last few weeks have been attempting to hammer out a seat-sharing agreement, which has been reportedly sealed.
As per the agreement, the Sena will contest on 126 seats of the 288 seats, with the BJP fighting on 144, said the sources. The remaining 18 seats will be given to other smaller parties. The post of the deputy chief minister, as per the agreement, could be allocated to a leader from the Sena.
The agreement was sealed after BJP president Amit Shah on Thursday chaired a meeting of the party's core group from Maharashtra to give final shape to its poll strategy and zero down on candidates for the state assembly elections on October 21. BJP working president JP Nadda, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Union minister Nitin Gadkari, and party general secretaries Bhupender Yadav and Saroj Pandey were among the leaders who attended the marathon meeting at the party's headquarters in Mumbai.
The meeting came amidst reports of unease in the saffron alliance in Maharashtra in view of the BJP offering fewer seats to the Sena instead of an equal division of seats.
The announcement on the seat-sharing pact is likely to be made at a joint press conference of Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Fadnavis in Mumbai on September 29.
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 agencies)