Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader, Devendra Fadnavis, recently proclaimed proudly that the BJP’s ascension to power in Maharashtra was by dismantling two political giants — Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party and Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena. The BJP leadership exults in the fracture of Pawar and Thackeray’s parties, highlighting how rebel leaders seized control of the party names and symbols from their original leaders.

However, this triumph has now morphed into a predicament for the BJP during seat-sharing discussions. The Election Commission’s decision to grant Eknath Shinde the Shiv Sena’s bow and arrow symbol and Shiv Sena name, and Ajit Pawar the clock symbol and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) name, has complicated matters. Shinde and Pawar are resolute in not squandering these symbols. Despite the BJP’s wish for some candidates of these alliance parties to contest under the BJP’s lotus symbol, the alliance partners staunchly refuse.

The BJP is pushing for contesting 30 out of 48 seats, with Shinde’s Sena contesting 13 and Ajit Pawar’s NCP five seats. However, Shinde’s MPs face uncertainty as local BJP leaders oppose their candidature. The BJP is intent on maximising MPs elected under the lotus symbol, leading to requests for alliance partners to accept the lotus symbol for some of their candidates. But at the same time, BJP candidates are unwilling to contest on alliance partners’ symbols.

In Satara, BJP’s Udayanraje Bhosale seeks to contest the Lok Sabha seat, but Ajit Pawar’s NCP has claimed it. Bhosale is reluctant to contest on the NCP’s symbol. In Baramati and Parbhani, the name of Mahadev Jankar, president of the Rashtriya Samaj Party, is circulating, but BJP wants him to contest under the lotus symbol. BJP also wants independent MPs to contest on the lotus symbol.

Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) is poised to join the alliance, but BJP leaders are hesitant to share any Mumbai seats with the MNS. They plan to ask Thackeray to allow his candidates to run under the lotus symbol if they contest the Lok Sabha polls in either the Nashik or Shirdi Lok Sabha constituencies.

The BJP leadership believes that the wave of support for PM Modi still influences voters and that alliance partners should capitalise on this “Modi wave.” In the 2019 elections, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance secured 41 seats, and BJP leaders in the State are eager to replicate this success.