With the countdown to the state assembly polls having begun, the BJP is getting down to the brass tacks on contentious issues like seat-sharing and exchange of seats. The party's core committee for Maharashtra on Thursday decided to undertake a study to take a call on seats that can be claimed by the party and exchanged with its allies like the Shiv Sena.
Pankaja Munde Palve, daughter of senior leader and former Union minister Gopinath Munde, who died in a road mishap, has also been inducted into the core committee. The state BJP will also request party president and Union home minister Rajnath Singh to induct Pankaja as a minister.
The BJP, which has so far played the role of a junior ally to the Sena, wants more seats from it due to the "changed political situation" after the Narendra Modi wave helped the 'Mahayuti' claim 42 of 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra. In 2009, the Sena had contested 169 seats, while the BJP fought 119 (up by two from 2004). However, the Sena won just 44 seats as against BJP's 46. There are 288 constituencies in the state.
BJP leaders admit that the real challenge will lie in an amicable sharing of constituencies among the six allies in Mahayuti. The Sena and BJP tied up with Dalit leader Ramdas Athavale's Republican Party of India, farmer leader and Hatkanangale MP Raju Shetti's Swabhimaani Paksha and Dhangar community leader Mahadeo Jankar's Rashtriya Samaj Paksha. NCP member of legislative council Vinayak Mete, who heads Maratha outfit Shivasangram and has joined the opposition camp, is about to form a party.
A senior BJP said the party would try to get over its underdog status. "We will have to seek an increase in seats in the assembly elections." The Shiv Sena, which has a much broader political and social base as compared to the BJP, has always dominated the saffron alliance.
"Instead of declaring one face as the Mahayuti's chief ministerial candidate, we may decide to fight the elections with an agenda to just rid the state of the Congress-NCP dispensation. There is no leader in Maharashtra who can be a vote magnet by being declared as the CM nominee. We can only project Narendra Modi and seek votes in his name," the BJP leader said.
The BJP had recently conducted a survey of voters which revealed that 82 per cent people were in favour of the same dispensation ruling in the centre and just 22 per cent wanted the Mahayuti to declare a CM candidate before polls.
The leader added that Pankaja, an MLA from Parli, was likely to contest the Lok Sabha by-polls from Beed, her father's constituency. The state BJP is eager that either of Munde's two other daughters replace Pankaja in the assembly.