While the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are still in the throes of seat-sharing talks for the forthcoming Assembly polls on October 13, the Opposition Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too seems beset with problems.
Both alliances are yet to formally announce their seat sharing though talks are in progress. Unlike the Congress-NCP, there is no dispute over the number of seats with both the Sena and BJP. The Sena will contest 171 seats and the BJP, 117, the same as in 2004. It is only the question of rival claims of both parties over certain seats, which is the issue, especially after the delimitation of constituencies.
Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Mr Ramdas Kadam finds himself without a constituency as Khed in the Konkan has been merged with the reconstituted Guhagar and Dapoli seats, and that is the bone of contention.
Mr Kadam and the Sena have demanded that the BJP give them Guhagar, instead of Khed. While the BJP resisted this for a while, since Wednesday there have been reports that the BJP has conceded Guhagar to the Sena. The sitting BJP MLA who has won four times from there, Dr Vinay Natu is understandably perturbed.
This was a seat held by his father Shridhar since 1972 and it will be difficult for the party to give it up. Dr Natu came to Mumbai today to meet BJP leaders Gopinath Munde, MP, and party state president Nitin Gadkari. Dr Natu told The Hindu that he had demanded that the seat stay with BJP. He said that he was confident the party will take a suitable decision as the seat sharing talks were not yet finalised.
The official BJP position is that a decision is yet to be taken on Guhagar. Mr Gadkari told reporters at a meet the press programme today that nothing was final on Guhagar and talks were still in progress. However, party sources say that the BJP may trade Guhagar for Ghatkopar (west) from where it wants to field Pramod Mahajan’s daughter Poonam.
Poonam was denied a ticket in the Lok Sabha thanks to differences between her uncle Mr Gopinath Munde and the state party president Mr Nitin Gadkari who don’t see eye to eye. The BJP is also staking a claim to some other seats like Malabar Hill, Vikramgad and Bhiwandi which after delimitation have changed their configuration.
Dr Natu came to Mumbai with a number of party workers who have expressed support to him and demanded that the Guhagar seat stay with BJP. Initially the party had asked the Sena to accommodate Mr Kadam in some other seat in Mumbai but he was unwilling to contest from there. The Sena is also unwilling to shift the sitting Sena MLA from Dapoli, Suryakant Dalvi to make way for Mr Kadam.