With just a few weeks to go for the Uttar Pradesh elections, the ruling BJP is busy making changes to its seat distribution strategy - being more generous with its allies as well as incumbent legislators than earlier planned, sources in the party have said.
While it has announced 107 candidates for the 403-seat assembly, discussions are still underway for others. UP votes in seven phases starting February 10 with results on March 10.
The BJP, which had earlier planned to drop as many as 100-150 MLAs, now finds itself in a spot after a string of defections led by former minister SP Maurya that has seen two more ministers and a clutch of MLAs switch sides to its main challenger Samajwadi Party.
Sources say it is unlikely the BJP will drop more than 30 to 50 MLAs even though multiple surveys by the party had suggested a need for a wider purge to tackle resentment against some and anti-incumbency sentiments.
Talks with ally Sanjay Nishad of the Nishad Party and the Apna Dal have also seen both parties push for a greater share than they hold currently. But the BJP hopes it can limit them to at most 15 seats each, sources said.
Caste arithmetic is playing a big role in seat allocation decisions and the party is also mindful of the need to give adequate representation to Scheduled Castes ad Other Backward Classes.
With Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya already named as candidates, talks are underway on whether other heavyweights such as state unit chiefs - Dinesh Sharma and Swatantra Dev Singh would contest elections.
The BJP has also kept a few seats unallocated in western UP which indicates that it may go in for an alliance with some party there, sources said.