The BJP and Shiv Sena have started closed-door parleys to arrive at a consensus on sharing seats for the upcoming Maharashtra assembly polls amid indications of hard bargaining from both the alliance partners.
Sources said state BJP president Chandrakant Patil and his party colleague Girish Mahajan (both also state ministers) are talking to senior Shiv Sena leader and minister Subhash Desai and other party functionaries to arrive at a deal on splitting the 288 assembly seats between them.
The pre-poll pact talks between the allies are going on for the last few days, they said.
BJP sources said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has conveyed to the Shiv Sena that both parties should retain the seats won by them in 2014 and after allocating a certain number of seats to smaller allies, share the rest equally.
Shiv Sena sources said the party will stick to the formula of 144 seats each which they claimed was worked out during a meeting between BJP chief Amit Shah, Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and Mr Fadnavis earlier this year.
"It has been decided that all responsibilities will be equally shared, including the Chief Minister's post for 2.5 years. The Sena and BJP should contest 144 seats each," a Sena source close to Thackeray said.
In 2014, the BJP and Shiv Sena had contested the assembly polls separately, winning 122 and 63 seats, respectively.
The BJP formed its government under Fadnavis in October 2014 and the Shiv Sena joined the dispensation a few months later.
The Congress and NCP had bagged 42 and 41 seats, respectively. The Congress and NCP, too, had contested the 2014 polls separately after sharing power for 15 years in the state.
The assembly polls in the state are due in the next few months.