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MVA allies seal poll pact in Maharashtra as Cong 'steps back'

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
Last updated on: April 09, 2024 23:55 IST
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The opposition's Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition in Maharashtra on Tuesday announced its seat-sharing arrangement for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections with the Shiv Sena-Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray securing a substantial portion with 21 seats, while the Congress will contest 17 seats, and the Nationalist Congress Party-Sharadchandra Pawar 10 seats.

IMAGE: Shiv Sena-UBT chief Uddhav Thackeray, NCP-SP chief Sharad Pawar and Congress leader Nana Patole during a joint press conference on alliance seat-sharing in Maharashtra, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, in Mumbai on Tuesday, April 9, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

The finalised agreement concludes weeks of negotiations, with all parties gearing up for the Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra scheduled in five phases from April 19 to May 20.

The agreement was achieved after the Congress relinquished its claims on the contentious Sangli and Bhiwandi seats, now designated for the Sena-UBT and the NCP-SP, respectively.


Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole clarified that the party had not capitulated to its allies but strategically taken 'a step back', emphasising that negotiations could not be prolonged indefinitely.

His statement comes in the backdrop of reports of some discontent within the state unit of Congress regarding the allocation of seats like Sangli and Bhiwandi and also the ceding of four out of six seats in Mumbai to the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena.

"We took a step back, we did not surrender," Patole affirmed to reporters while explaining that the final decision was reached after consultations with the party's central leadership.

Congress leaders tried their best to secure seats where the party had good prospects of winning, but there were limitations on stretching negotiations in view of the ongoing election process, he said.

Earlier, NCP-SP chief Sharad Pawar emphasised that the allies reached a unanimous decision, highlighting unity among the parties.

Former state chief minister and chief of Shiv Sena-UBT Uddhav Thackeray said the alliance's primary objective is to defeat the BJP, a view endorsed by Patole who stressed the necessity of being magnanimous to achieve this shared goal.

Addressing a joint press conference at 'Shivalaya', the Shiv Sena-UBT office in south Mumbai, Thackeray underscored the importance of focusing on defeating the BJP.

"When victory against the BJP is the larger goal, we have to set aside certain differences," he said when asked about the Shiv Sena (UBT) refusing to give Sangli seat to the Congress.

Thackeray said there was a strange coincidence of surya grahan (solar eclipse), amavasya (new moon) and the BJP rally on the same day (Monday).

Thackeray also referred to recent remarks made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, dismissing them as unbecoming of a national leader. He criticised the BJP as a party tainted by corruption, particularly in light of the electoral bonds scandal.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech yesterday was not that of a prime minister. When we respond, please don't take it as an insult to the prime minister. Our criticism will be about a leader of a corrupt party," Thackeray said to a query on Modi referring to his party as "fake Shiv Sena".

"It is not right for a leader of the party of extortionists to call us fake," he said.

The BJP is a 'party of extortionists' and this was seen after the electoral bonds 'scam' was exposed, Thackeray alleged.

Patole echoed the sentiment of a unified front against the BJP, emphasising the Congress's commitment to supporting MVA candidates in Sangli and Bhiwandi.

He condemned the BJP's disparaging treatment of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

While the state Congress leadership finally gave way to the Shiv Sena-UBT on Sangli, local unit of the Congress in this western Maharashtra constituency called a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the future course of action, indicating that there was considerable resentment about the decision.

In Mumbai too, according to sources, the local Congress leaders were upset over the failure to get at least three out of six seats.

Mumbai Congress chief Varsha Gaikwad had written a letter to All India Congress Committee general secretary K Venugopal complaining that the state leadership sacrificed the party's interests in Mumbai, sources said.

At the press conference, Uddhav Thackeray lauded the Congress' manifesto and said its promises will be implemented when the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) forms government at the Centre.

As part of the deal, the Shiv Sena-UBT has got Jalgaon, Parbhani, Nashik, Palghar, Kalyan, Thane, Raigad, Maval, Osmanabad, Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Buldhana, Hathkanangale, Aurangabad, Shirdi, Sangli, Hingoli, Yavatmal-Washim, Mumbai South, Mumbai South Central, Mumbai North West and Mumbai North East seats.

The Congress has got Nandurbar, Dhule, Akola, Amravati, Nagpur, Bhandara-Gondia, Gadchiroli-Chimur, Chandrapur, Nanded, Jalna, Mumbai North Central, Mumbai North, Pune, Latur, Solapur, Kolhapur and Ramtek seats.

The NCP(SP) will contest Baramati, Shirur, Satara, Bhiwandi, Dindori, Madha, Raver, Wardhan, Ahmednagar South and Beed seats.

The three MVA allies had also tried to bring Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar's Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi on board, however the seat-sharing talks with him made no headway and Ambedkar earlier this month announced his party's candidates independently.

The MVA came into being after the Uddhav Thackeray-led undivided Shiv Sena fell out with the BJP in 2019 and joined hands with the Congress and undivided NCP to form a government in the state.

The MVA government was, however, toppled when Eknath Shinde and several other Sena MLAs rebelled against Thackeray, and the alliance suffered another blow last year when Ajit Pawar split the NCP and joined the Shinde-led government.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.