Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah met state leaders from Haryana and Maharashtra at the party headquarters in Delhi on Sunday to finalise the candidates for the assembly elections in both states to be held next month. The BJP and the Shiv Sena, the two allies mostly at odds over various issues, seemed to have arrived at an understanding on seat division in Maharashtra until reports last came in.
Sources said the BJP was expected to contest 144 of the state's 288 seats, leaving 126 for the Sena and 18 for smaller allies.
Sources said that while the Chief Minister will be from the BJP, the Shiv Sena will get the post of Deputy Chief Minister. According to news agency ANI, it has been decided that Aditya Thackeray -- son of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray -- will contest from the Worli assembly seat in Mumbai.
The deal was worked out with a section of the party's state leaders as PM Modi was keen on it, sources said.
In 2014, the Sena and the BJP had ended their alliance ahead of the state elections, only to get back together after the state had delivered a split verdict. The BJP had turned out to be the single largest party, but fell far short of a majority.
The Shiv Sena, which had initially insisted on a 50:50 division had to scale down. Ahead of the Lok Sabha election, the BJP had accepted 50-50 division demand with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar - an arrangement that had paid off.
The negotiations over seat-sharing went on for long with Sena. At one point, senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut said the tussle was "as tedious" as the partition of India.
The BJP is keen that smaller parties in Maharashtra contest on its symbol. It has also made it clear that the relatives of party leaders will not be given tickets.
Many leaders, especially from Haryana, have requested for tickets for their family members. Even a Union minister, Rao Inderjit Singh, has asked for a ticket for his daughter.
Those who have crossed 75 years of age will also be denied ticket. Party sources said some of the sitting MLAs in Maharashtra and Haryana may be denied ticket.
Former Indian Hockey team captain Sandeep Singh, Olympic wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and women wrestler Babita Phogat, who recently joined the BJP, are likely to be fielded by the party in the elections, sources said.