BJP, Shiv Sena talks continue over six ‘difficult’ Maha LS seats

Mumbai:  Despite burning the midnight oil over hard negotiations, the stalemate continues between BJP and Shiv Sena over six Lok Sabha seats, including Thane, Palghar, Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Nashik, Sambhajinagar and Dharashiv.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis held three rounds of talks so far but could not arrive at a consensus as both have taken aggressive stands claiming the winnability factor in those six seats. Insiders from both parties pointed out that CM Shinde and DyCM Fadnavis have hinted that the workable solution will now be possible only after the intervention of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Of the six seats, Thane is held by Shiv Sena UBT after the split in June 2022, Palghar by Shiv Sena (led by Eknath Shinde), Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg by Shiv Sena UBT, Nashik by Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena, Dharashiv (until recently known as Osmanabad) by Shiv Sena UBT and Sambhajinagar by AIMIM.

The bone of contention is that BJP has staked claim over Thane, Palghar, Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Sambhajinagar and Nashik while Shinde faction has made a strong pitch not to leave these seats to BJP. Both parties claim their better winning prospects riding on Modi wave and Modi ki guarantee.

CM Shinde is not ready to give Thane seat considering it as a matter of prestige. Incidentally, Thane is CM Shinde’s home turf. On the other hand, BJP has argued that after the split in Shiv Sena, Shinde faction lacks a formidable candidate to take on sitting MP Rajan Vichare from the Shiv Sena UBT.

In Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, CM Shinde is under tremendous pressure from Industry Minister Uday Samant and his brother Kiran Samant to field the party nominee instead of leaving it to BJP. However, BJP is keen to nominate former Union Minister Narayan Rane and hopes to snatch the seat from Shiv Sena UBT. In Palghar too, BJP is confident to win the seat based on its increased presence and also because of the work of RSS and organisations affiliated to it. BJP hopes to get support from Hitendra Thakur-led Bahujan Vikas Aghadi in Palghar.

Similarly, in Sambhajinagar, which was until recently known as Aurangabad, Shinde faction has considered the nomination to the party’s Minister Sandipan Bhamre or Maratha reservation activist Vinod Patil. On the other hand, BJP has made a strong pitch for Sambhajinagar seat as the party believes that it was in a comfortable position to take the advantage of divided opposition and cracks within Shiv Sena UBT. The Union Minister Bhagwat Karad is BJP’s likely nominee in Sambhajinagar. The Shiv Sena UBT has announced its nomination to former MP Chandrakant Khaire.

On top of it, the Ajit Pawar-led NCP’s claim over Nashik has made the ongoing seat-sharing process more complicated. NCP Minister and Samata Parishad founder Chhagan Bhujbal has claimed that his nomination has been pitched by none other than senior BJP leaders which has clean bowled the Shiv Sena in particular. The sitting MP Hemant Godse has already launched his campaign without waiting for the official announcement of seat-sharing agreement while Bhujbal is confident to get the nomination from his party.

Bhujbal has categorically made it clear that he will contest the Nashik seat on the party’s clock symbol and not on BJP’s lotus. However, the local BJP is not in tune with Bhujbal’s proposal citing that it has three legislators and the backing of over 70 former corporators from the Nashik Municipal Corporation and also from the adjoining Trimbakeshwar civic body.

As far as Dharashiv seat is concerned, Shiv Sena UBT has already nominated sitting MP Omraje Nimbalkar who has started his campaign by stepping up outreach with voters. BJP is expected to field party legislator and former Minister Rana Patil while Shinde faction is finding it difficult for a suitable nominee who can take on Om Raje Nimbalkar. NCP led by Ajit Pawar hopes to get the Dharashiv seat and it has already shortlisted three names, including party legislators Satish Chavan and Vikram Kale and the district officer-bearer Suresh Birajdar.


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