Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 21
The Central Election Committee (CEC) of the BJP is expected to finalise the candidates for the Haryana and Maharashtra elections scheduled later this year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi returns from his US visit.
Party sources say the CEC is likely to meet after the ‘pitr paksha’ ends on September 28 and the Navratri begins on September 29.
Senior leaders say that in Haryana “things are settled and the aim is to maximise the number of seats to create a new record,” the BJP is yet to concretise the contours of its difficult partnership with ally Shiv Sena which is seeking an equal partnership in the 288-seat Maharashtra Assembly.
The highest number of seats ever won by a party in Haryana was in 1977 when the erstwhile Janata Party bagged 75 of the 90 in the aftermath of Emergency. In the current Assembly the BJP has 47 seats. After winning all 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana in 2019, the BJP launched “Mission 75” for the Assembly polls.
A central leader says, “We are in a very good space and the aim is to pick the right candidates. An internal survey has projected as many 80 seats for the BJP.”
The BJP is also dealing with the problem of plenty in Haryana. Several sitting MLAs have expressed worry over the safety of their seats in the forthcoming polls. How to deal with the disgruntled leaders, which will be many, seems to be the biggest worry in Haryana, which the leadership otherwise believes is “more or less a done deal”.
In Maharashtra, the BJP is yet to balance the difficult seats equation with the Shiv Sena. Every day is a new day with new speculations, new theories and new commentaries coming from state leaders. The latest is 162 seats for the BJP and 126 for the Sena of the total 288.
It is expected that the upcoming meeting of the top leadership of the allies will “soon” finalise the final number of seats they will contest.
BJP chief Amit Shah is expected to be in Mumbai on September 22. The Sena is angling for a 50:50 seat-sharing formula and speculation is that while Shah may not agree to that he could offer the post of the Deputy Chief Minister to Sena chief Uddhav Thackaray. How the smaller allies are accommodated also has to be decided.
In 2014, the BJP and the Shiv Sena contested the 2014 state Assembly election separately after they failed to arrive at a seat-sharing formula. The BJP won 122 and the Sena 63 and the two came together later to form the government. The remaining 113 seats went to the Opposition—the Congress, the NCP and others. It is these 113 seats that the BJP leadership is actually willing to share with the Sena and the rest of the ‘mitra paksha’—the smaller parties.
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