Amidst murmurs of potential “friendly contests,” the INDIA bloc, including Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray, the Congress, and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Sharad Pawar, announced on Tuesday that they have amicably resolved their seat-sharing arrangements. The Shiv Sena is set to contest 21 out of Maharashtra’s 48 seats, with the Congress following with 17 seats and the NCP with 10, presenting a unified front against the BJP-led alliance.

After days of intense negotiations, the INDIA bloc partners found themselves at a crossroads. The Congress, eyeing seats in Sangli, Bhiwandi, and Mumbai South Central, was adamant about its demands. However, tensions rose when NCP and Shiv Sena announced their candidates for Bhiwandi and Sangli, respectively. Shiv Sena was resolute about keeping the Mumbai South Central seat. Sensing the brewing conflict, the Congress high command intervened, urging State leaders to exercise restraint and avoid discord within the alliance. Sharad Pawar stepped in as a mediator, ensuring that the alliance remained united and steered clear of any friendly contests.

Fight against BJP 

Speaking at the press conference in Mumbai Uddhav Thackeray said that there was no discontent among the INDIA bloc partners, and now as seat sharing is solved amicably, the alliance is ready to take on the BJP. “There are many parties who are part of the alliance and have not demanded any seat. We are fighting against the Bhrashtachari Janata Party, which has collected ransom in the name of electoral bonds. Using CBI, ED and Income Tax, this party is operating a washing machine to make corrupt leaders blot free,” said Thackeray. He added that the alliance partner will attack Narendra Modi in its campaign as a BJP leader and not as the PM.                  

Amidst speculations of potential dissent among local leaders regarding the seat-sharing arrangement, alliance leaders confidently asserted that their party members would gracefully accept the decision without causing any disruptions. State Congress President Nana Patole reassured that there were no rifts within the alliance and that Congress workers were united in their goal to keep the BJP away from power. He affirmed that the alliance’s candidate would receive full support, with votes seamlessly transferring across all partner parties.

BJP will face backlash

Meanwhile, NCP Chief Sharad Pawar launched a scathing attack on PM Narendra Modi, criticising him for what he perceived as a degradation of the prime ministerial institution. Pawar said he has worked alongside several prime ministers and expressed unparalleled dismay at Modi’s approach.

After Uttar Pradesh (80), Maharashtra has the highest number of Lok Sabha constituencies (48). In 2019, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance won 41 out of 48 seats, with BJP winning 23 and Sena 18 seats. The leaders of the India bloc say that BJP will not be able to retain all its seats and will face backlash for its efforts to decimate local parties using central agencies.