A leader of the Shiv Sena faction led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Tuesday asked ally Bharatiya Janata Party to clarify its position on contesting all eight Lok Sabha seats in Marathwada region in the 2024 elections.
He also said four of the eight constituencies had been contested by the Shiv Sena in 2019 and staked claim to those constituencies.
Days earlier, senior BJP leader and Union minister Bhagwat Karad had spoken about contesting all eight constituencies that fall in the Marathwada region.
"I have heard that statement but it should not be taken seriously. The intention behind that statement is perhaps to expand the party (BJP) base," former Maharashtra minister Arjun Khotkar, who belongs to the CM Shinde faction, told Marathi news channel, ABP Maza.
At the same time, Khotkar said they (BJP leaders) should remember a government was formed in Maharashtra under CM Shinde.
"At least 12-13 MPs joined Shinde earlier", he added.
The Shiv Sena faction led by CM Shinde and the BJP share power in the state since the collapse of the MVA government last June.
"If they (BJP) are considering alliance (with the Shinde faction in Lok Sabha polls) and saying to contest all eight seats in Marathwada then it is alright. But if that is not the case, state BJP chief (Chandrashekhar Bawankule) should clarify the party's stand," Khotkar said.
He said the Shiv Sena (before the split) contested Aurangabad, Parbhani, Hingoli, and Osmanabad Lok Sabha constituencies in the Marathwada region, which has eight LS seats, in 2019. "We (the Shinde faction) have a claim over the (four) seats," Khotkar added.
A day earlier, Bawankule had said the party will win the Aurangabad Lok Sabha seat by a margin of 2 lakh votes in the 2024 polls.
While AIMIM wrested the Aurangabad LS seat from Shiv Sena in 2019, Osmanabad and Parbhani constituencies were won by Omprakash Raje Nimbalkar and Sanjay Jadhav, respectively.
Nimbalkar and Jadhav are Uddhav Thackeray loyalists.
Shiv Sena MP Hemant Patil, who had won the Hingoli constituency, later joined the Shinde faction.
The BJP had won Latur, Nanded, and Beed seats in the Marathwada region in the previous Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP has set a target to win 18 "difficult" seats it has identified in Maharashtra out of 160 targeted constituencies across the country in the 2024 elections, party sources had said.
In the 2019 LS elections, the BJP won 23 of the 25 seats (out of the total 48) it contested in Maharashtra, while the party's then ally Shiv Sena bagged 18.