Maharashtra Opposition Seat Pact Final, Team Thackeray To Contest 21 Seats

The MVA's seat-share deal comes shortly after Prakash Ambedkar's Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi - which has substantial support among the Dalit communities - withdrew from talks.

The MVA consists of the Congress, Sharad Pawar's NCP faction, and Uddhav Thackeray's Sena (File).


The opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance in Maharashtra has reached a deal for the state's 48 Lok Sabha seats - 10 days before the start of the election - senior bloc leaders said Tuesday morning

The Shiv Sena faction led by former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray gets the lion's share - 21 seats - with the Congress allotted 17 and 10 reserved for Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party group.

Mr Thackeray's Sena will also contest four of Mumbai's six seats - North West, South Central, South, and South East seats. The Congress will contest the other two - North and North Central.

In the 2019 election the Bharatiya Janata Party and the (then undivided) Sena won three each; the two were allies then but fell out, in dramatic fashion after the Assembly election later that year.

Bhiwandi, Sangli Row Settled

The Bhiwandi and Sangli seats - which all three claimed, threatening to derail talks - have been given to Mr Pawar's NCP and Uddhav Thackeray's Sena. Congress leader Nana Patole called the issue "resolved" and said, "... our workers will work to make the MVA candidates victorious in both seats."

"... we saw what (this) dictatorial government (a reference to the BJP) has been doing. Our workers have worked wholeheartedly, across the country, to fight against these dictatorial people," the Congress' Maharashtra unit boss said, "The aim is to throw out the BJP. We will work for this."

"There comes a time when we have to move forward... we have reached this deal with the aim of winning the election. We have done this... now the people will decide," Mr Thackeray said.

Mr Pawar said candidates (for seats not yet announced) will be announced soon.

The Bhiwandi candidate has been confirmed as the Thackeray Sena leader Chandrahar Patil, a former wrestler. The seat was won by the BJP's Kapil Patil in the 2014 and 2019 elections.

Similarly, Sangli was won by the BJP's Sanjaykaka Patil in the two previous elections, and, like party colleague Kapil Patil, has been given the chance to win his seat for a third consecutive time.

Sangli was a Congress stronghold; the party dominated the seat from 1962 to 2009.

Apart from Bhiwandi, NCP faction will also contest the family stronghold of Baramati, which will see a high-profile clash between sitting MP Supriya Sule, who is Sharad Pawar's daughter, and Sunetra Pawar, who is the wife of Mr Pawar's nephew Ajit Pawar, who led the rebellion that broke the party.

READ | Pawar vs Pawar As Supriya Sule Takes On Rebel Cousin's Wife

Prakash Ambedkar's VBA Not Included

The MVA's seat-share deal comes as the MVA and Prakash Ambedkar's Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi - which has substantial support among the Dalit communities - have failed to agree on a deal.

The VBA held prolonged talks with the tripartite alliance but an agreement was not forthcoming.

Mr Ambedkar initially wanted five seats for his party and then upped that demand to eight, most of which had been allotted to either the Congress or Mr Thackeray's Sena faction.

He also accused the MVA of "trying to use VBA for promoting dynastic politics, which we tried to resist...", and, speaking to NDTV, took a jibe at the bloc, accusing it of "hiding something".

READ | "Don't Think Anyone Wants To Join": Prakash Ambedkar On MVA

"There is no openness between them... whether they are going to stay together is the question," Mr Ambedkar, the grandson of Dalit icon and Father of the Constitution, BR Ambedkar, said.

However, till last week there was hope the alliance and the VBA would iron out their differences.

Former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Prithivraj Chavan even said his party - which had announced a candidate for the Akola seat - would withdraw if a deal were to be struck.

READ | "If Prakash Ambedkar Reconciles...": Congress Leader's Seat Offer

Akola was among the seats the MVA had offered to the VBA; in fact, Mr Ambedkar had said he would contest from the seat, which has been held by the BJP's Sanjay Dhotre since 2004.

Mr Ambedkar won from here in 1998 and 1999.

The MVA today acknowledged the failure of talks with Mr Ambedkar's party.

Senior NCP Sharadchandra Pawar leader Jayant Patil told reporters, "We have taken efforts to take people along... but we did fail in a few instances. (Still), many smaller parties are with us."

2024 Lok Sabha Election In Maharashtra

Maharashtra votes in five of the seven phases of the 2024 Lok Sabha election - April 19, April 26, May 7, May 13, and May 20. The results will be declared on June 4.

The state will also hold an Assembly election later this year.

The MVA is part of the national, Congress-led INDIA bloc formed in June last year to oust Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP. The bloc had initially struggled to seal seat-share deals in key states, but has now finalised agreements for Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, as well as Maharashtra.

The turning point, many believe, was the Congress-Aam Aadmi Party's dramatic win in February's Chandigarh mayoral election. The allies contested together and were victorious, even if they needed the intervention of the Supreme Court to counter the Returning Officer's "murder of democracy".

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