The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) will declare on August 15 it's first list of candidates for the assembly elections, to be held in October 2014. While many aspirants are expecting tickets, party sources said the first list will mostly have either all the sitting MLAs or those having no competitors for the same seat.
Until now the BJP had been contesting Maharashtra assembly elections on fewer seats than the Shiv Sena, but now, it seems, the former would seek more seats. However, the Sena has already made it clear that the current seat formula, under which it contests more seats than the BJP, will be applied this time too.
This leaves little nor no scope to accommodate other smaller alliance partners in Mahayuti or the grand alliance. The smaller parties have signalled that they would have to be given a sizeable number of seats if the bigger partners wanted their continued support.
Meanwhile, BJP president Amit Shah is said to have indicated that if the alliance won the assembly elections, then his party would demand the chief minister's post. This is at a time when the Sena has been projecting Uddhav Thackeray as its chief ministerial candidate.
In the 2009 assembly polls, the Sena contested 169 seats, while the BJP fought from 119. The BJP won 46 seats and the Sena 44.
However, senior BJP leaders have decided to announce the list of names of candidates on August 15 to infuse enthusiasm among party workers. "Even if the first list has only sitting MLAs, it will help booth-level workers start preparing ground and work towards a strategy. The party will have to come up with a negotiation formula and announce the second list soon,"said a senior party leader.
Apart from the Sena and the BJP, the other partners in Mahayuti are Ramdas Athavale's Republican Party of India (Athavale), Swabhimaani Paksha of farmers leader Raju Shetti, who is now a member of the Lok Sabha, Mahadeo Jankar-led Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP), which has a strong base in the Dhangar (shepherd) community, and Maratha organisation Shivasangram, headed by MLC Vinayak Mete, who was sacked from the Nationalist Congress Party.