MVA in Disarray Over Seat-sharing in Maharashtra

Mumbai: More than six months after they resolved to contest the 2024 Lok Sabha elections together, the Congress, Shiv Sena UBT and NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar) are yet to reach any consensus on seat distribution in Maharashtra. Prakash Ambedkar, whose party ‘Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi’ is trying to broker a pact with the MVA, revealed on Tuesday that the three parties do not have agreement on 10 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.

Mr. Ambedkar said that the MVA leaders are misleading the media by claiming that their seat-sharing has almost been finalised. “Sanjay Raut is giving wrong information to the media. They do not have an agreement on around 10 seats. The dispute is between the Congress and Shiv Sena UBT, which has delayed the final decision and all of us are concerned about it,” he said.

The three parties had formed Maha Vikas Aghadi in 2019 to form a government in Maharashtra and decided to keep the alliance going even after their government fell in June 2021. In a meeting held in August last year, all three parties resolved to fight Lok Sabha elections together. Now they are trying to rope in VBA also in their alliance to avoid division of anti-BJP votes. However, Mr. Ambedkar said his party will not know which seats are being offered to them unless Congress and Shiv Sena UBT settle their differences.

Congress’s Maharashtra in-charge Ramesh Chennithala said that the MVA’s final decision on seat sharing will be taken after March 17, when Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’ ends with a public rally in Mumbai. The Congress is going to invite all MVA leaders for the rally.

“We are firm on working together. There is no trouble in the MVA. Our seat-sharing will be finalised after March 17,” the Congress leader said.

A senior MVA leader, who did not wish to be named, said that Mr. Ambedkar does not seem to be serious about the alliance with the MVA constituents. “We have a feeling that he is only buying time. He will announce to go it alone at the last moment and blame the MVA constituents for forcing his hands. Uddhav Thackeray is keen to bring Mr. Ambedkar on board and other two parties also agreed to it. But we suspect that Mr. Ambedkar has different plans,” the leader said.

However, despite the denials from the MVA, their differences are out in the open. The main squabble is over two seats in Mumbai — Mumbai North Central and Mumbai North West. Congress leaders Varsh Gaikwad and Sanjay Nirupam are said to be interested in contesting these two seats. However, Shiv Sena UBT has already announced Amol Kirtikar as its candidate for Mumbai North West and Uddhav Thackeray’s close aide Anil Desai has begun his work for the Mumbai North Central constituency. Shiv Sena, in alliance with the BJP, had won both the seats in 2019 by defeating Congress candidates. However, both the MPs — Gajanan Kirtikar and Rahul Shewale — have joined the Eknath Shinde camp.

Mr. Nirupam has publicly expressed his displeasure over the candidature of Amol Kirtikar, whose father is in the Shinde faction. He has alleged that Mr. Thackeray announced Amol’s name to humiliate Congress leadership. Ms. Gaikwad also said that the seat-sharing has not been finalised.

Mr. Thackeray has also announced that well-known wrestler Chandrahar Patil will be his party’s candidate in Sangli Lok Sabha seat. However, Congress leader Vishwajit Kadam has said that the seat “belongs to Congress”.

The two parties are also at loggerhead over the Kolhapur seat. Both the parties have agreed to field Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s descendant Shahu Majaraj, however both parties want him to contest on their election symbol.

The NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar) also wants Wardha seat, which was contested by Congress in 2019. On the other hand, the Congress is staking claim on Praful Patel’s former constituency Bhandara-Gondia.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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