Ahead of Maharashtra Assembly elections, Union Minister and Republican Party of India (RPI) leader Ramdas Athawale on Thursday said that his party doesn’t want to fight on Bharatiya Janata Party's election symbol. “BJP and Shiva Sena have decided to give 18 seats to allies, RPI has demanded 10 out of those 18 seats. We'll contest on our own symbol in the Maharashtra Assembly elections. We don't want to fight on BJP's symbol,” Athawale was quoted as saying by ANI.
Earlier, Athawale on Tuesday said his party may get eight to 10 seats.
“In Maharashtra, there are 288 assembly seats. In the last Assembly polls BJP and Shiv Sena had contested separately and RPI had supported BJP... Now after coming together during the Lok Sabha polls, it has been decided that BJP will contest in 135 seats and Shiv Sena in 135 and the remaining 18 seats for RPI and other smaller parties,” Athawale told reporters.
Union Minister&Republican Party of India (RPI) leader Ramdas Athawale: BJP&Shiva Sena have decided to give 18 seats to allies, RPI has demanded 10 out of those 18 seats. We'll contest on our own symbol in the Maharashtra Assembly elections. We don't want to fight on BJP's symbol. pic.twitter.com/sQmzDy4if9— ANI (@ANI) September 5, 2019
In the Lok Sabha election, the BJP-Shiv Sena-RPI alliance had won 41 of the 48 seats.
Athwale said many NCP and Congress leaders, unhappy with their leadership and the party after the Lok Sabha elections, were eager to join BJP and others, to the Shiv Sena.
“After the election, our alliance will grow stronger,” he added.
The Assembly elections in Maharashtra are expected to be held later this year.
Meanwhile, the BJP and Shiv Sena have started closed-door parleys to arrive at a consensus on sharing seats for the upcoming Maharashtra assembly polls amid indications of hard bargaining from both the alliance partners.
Sources said state BJP president Chandrakant Patil and his party colleague Girish Mahajan (both also state ministers) are talking to senior Shiv Sena leader and minister Subhash Desai and other party functionaries to arrive at a deal on splitting the 288 assembly seats between them.
The pre-poll pact talks between the saffron allies are going on for the last few days, they said.
BJP sources said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has conveyed to the Shiv Sena that both parties should retain the seats won by them in 2014 and after allocating a certain number of seats to smaller allies, share the rest equally.
Shiv Sena sources said the party will stick to the formula of 144 seats each which they claimed was worked out during a meeting between BJP chief Amit Shah, Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and Fadnavis earlier this year.