Maharashtra Lok Sabha polls | A look at Mahayuti and Maha Vikas Aghadi’s seat-sharing split and internal feuds

Updated - May 10, 2024 09:51 pm IST

Published - April 08, 2024 12:49 pm IST

Maharashtra will witness a fight between two three-party coalitions - Mahayuti and Maha Vikas Aghadi - in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls

Maharashtra will witness a fight between two three-party coalitions - Mahayuti and Maha Vikas Aghadi - in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls

Gearing up for the five-phase general elections, parties in Maharashtra are currently discussing seat-sharing formulas with their allies. The 48 Lok Sabha seats up for grabs in Maharashtra will see a close contest between the two major state coalitions – the Mahayuti (Bharatiya Janata Party, Shiv Sena, and Nationalist Congress Party) and the Maha Vikas Aghadi (Indian National Congress, Shiv Sena (UBT), and NCP (SP)).

Here’s a look at the coalitions, internal feuds and seat-sharing formula between the coalition partners.

How did the current coalitions form?

After winning the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the alliance between BJP and Shiv Sena formally severed ties over power sharing, leading to the imposition of President’s rule in Maharashtra. As Shiv Sena held talks with rivals Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, ex-CM Devendra Fadnavis along with NCP’s Ajit Pawar staked claim to form a BJP-NCP government, claiming the support of 30 MLAs. Within three days, the coalition fell apart and Uddhav Thackeray staked his claim with the support of all Congress and NCP MLAs, along with Ajit Pawar.

At the helm:  Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray at a meeting of Maha Vikas Aghadi at a hotel  in Mumbai in 2019

At the helm: Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray at a meeting of Maha Vikas Aghadi at a hotel in Mumbai in 2019 | Photo Credit: Special Arangement

Since 2019, power has changed hands thrice in the State. It was first ruled by BJP in coalition with NCP, then the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition ruled till 2022 before Eknath Shinde revolted, splintering Shiv Sena into two factions, reducing the Maha Aghadi government to a minority. A BJP-led coalition once again took the reins of the state, opting to keep Shiv Sena rebel Eknath Shinde as Chief Minister. In 2023, Ajit Pawar chose to cut ties with uncle Sharad Pawar to join the BJP-Sena government, creating two factions of the NCP.

With the Election Commission (EC) recognising the rebel Shiv Sena and NCP factions as the original ones, NCP founder Sharad Pawar’s faction has chosen to call itself NCP - Sharadchandra Pawar sporting the ‘man blowing turha (trumpet)’ symbol in the polls. Its rival faction led by Ajit Pawar has retained the name NCP and the ‘clock’ symbol but has been warned by the Supreme Court to not use Sharad Pawar’s photo or name in its campaign.

Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde with Deputy Chief Ministers Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar addresses a press conference on the eve of the Budget session at Sahyadri Guest House, in Mumbai, on Sunday, February 25, 2024

Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde with Deputy Chief Ministers Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar addresses a press conference on the eve of the Budget session at Sahyadri Guest House, in Mumbai, on Sunday, February 25, 2024 | Photo Credit: -

Meanwhile, rebel Sena MLA Eknath Shinde’s faction retained the iconic bow-and-arrow symbol and the name ‘Shiv Sena’, while its founder’s son Uddhav Thackeray chose to call his faction Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) and opted for the ‘mashaal’ (flaming torch) as its party symbol.

What are the seat-splits in the coalitions?

Currently, the Mahayuti coalition has 37 Lok Sabha MPs, while the Maha Vikas Aghadi has 8 MPs representing Maharashtra in the Lower House.

Intense negotiations between all six parties began earlier this year as both BJP and Congress took the lead in handling the factions within their allied parties.


Being the leading coalition member, BJP, represented by Amit Shah, held talks with its ally chiefs – Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde and NCP’s Ajit Pawar, asserting that the party would contest 30-34 seats, leaving 10-14 seats for Shiv Sena and 4 seats to NCP. BJP’s old ally – Republican Party of India (Athawale) has been dropped with no seats allotted to it under the NDA, while BJP is eyeing ways to rope in the other Thackeray into its coalition – Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray.

As of date, BJP has declared contestants for 24 seats, while Shiv Sena has released a list of eight candidates. NCP has announced three candidates and backed Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP) founder Mahadev Jankar for the Parbhani seat.

Amit Shah being received by Eknath Shinde, Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, upon his arrival in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Amit Shah being received by Eknath Shinde, Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, upon his arrival in Mumbai on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: -

In its second list of Lok Sabha candidates, BJP announced 20 names for Maharashtra including Union Minister Nitin Gadkari from his hometurf — Nagpur, while Union Minister Piyush Goyal is set to make his poll debut from Mumbai North. Swapping sisters, Pankaja Munde has been fielded from Beed instead of her sister Pritam. The party has retained veterans like Sudhir Mungantiwar, Mihir Kotecha, and Raosaheb Danve on the poll ticket. In its fourth list, BJP fielded Navneet Rana from Amravati, irking several allies.

Eyeing at least 16 Lok Sabha seats, Eknath Shinde’s Sena faction, has retained five of eight sitting MPs in its first list of candidates from Mumbai South Central, Kolhapur, Shirdi (SC), Buldhana, Maval, Hatkanangale. For Ramtek (SC), it has dropped sitting MP Krupal Tumane, fielding Congress-turned-Sena MLA Raju Parve instead. At BJP’s behest, it replaced Hingoli MP Hemant Patil with Baburao Kadam Kohlikar and five-time Yavatmal-WashimMP Bhawana Gawli with Rajashri Patil — the Hingoli MP’s wife. It may also field new joinee Congress-turned-Sena leader Govinda from Mumbai North-West. Sena seeks three more seats in its kitty— Nashik, Sindhudurg and Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar (erstwhile Aurangabad), which are still being negotiated.

Ajit Pawar’s NCP has fielded Sena-turned-NCP member Shivajirao Adhalarao Patil for Shirur and Rajan Tatkare for Raigad. It has also fielded Mr. Pawar’s wife Sunetra for the clan’s bastion Baramati against sitting MP and NCP(SP) working President Supriya Sule.

Maha Vikas Aghadi

The Maha Vikas Aghadi comprising of NCP(SP), Congress and Shiv Sena (UBT) began seat sharing talks earlier this year, seeking to accommodate Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) in its alliance. However, with disputes arising within the three parties over seat-split, VBA decided to go solo in the general elections, choosing to ally with Maratha reservation activist Manoj Jarange-Patil instead. However, Mr. Jarange-Patil has said he would neither field any candidates nor support any political party in the upcoming elections.

The three parties have split up 44 of 48 Lok Sabha seats, with Shiv Sena (UBT) getting 19 seats, Congress getting 16 seats and NCP (SP) getting nine seats. Four contentious seats – Mumbai South-Central, Mumbai North-West, Bhiwandi and Sangli are yet to be decided.

Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena faction is insistent on contesting all 23 seats it fought on the last general election when it had allied with BJP. Releasing its first list of 17 candidates, Shiv Sena (UBT) has retained its five incumbent MPs from Parbhani, Thane, Mumbai South, Dharashiv, and Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg. Apart from these, the party has named candidates for Raigad, Mumbai North-East, Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, Buldhana, Maval and Hingoli. Later, Thackeray also announced candidates for Kalyan, Hatkanangale, Palghar and Jalgaon.

Maharashtra Cong. chief Nana Patole, Shiv Sena (UBT) Chief Uddhav Thackeray and NCP Chief Sharad Pawar during a press conference in Mumbai

Maharashtra Cong. chief Nana Patole, Shiv Sena (UBT) Chief Uddhav Thackeray and NCP Chief Sharad Pawar during a press conference in Mumbai | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI

Despite talks still being underway with MVA parties on contentious seats, Shiv Sena (UBT) has announced wrestler Chandrahar Patil from Sangli, Rajya Sabha MP Anil Desai for Mumbai South-Central and Sena youth wing leader Amol Kirtikar for Mumbai North-West — all three seats have been demanded by Congress as well.

On the other hand, Congress has named twelve candidates including Emperor Shivaji’s direct descendent Shahu Chhatrapati Maharaj (Kolhapur) and Praniti Shinde, former Union Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s daughter (Solapur). With the exit of top leaders like Ashok Chavan, Milind Deora, and Sanjay Nirupam, and State chief Nana Patole opting to not contest, Congress has fielded fresh faces for Nagpur, Bhandara-Gondia, Ramtek and Gadchiroli-Chimur.

Pawar clan patriarch Sharad Pawar’s faction, NCP (SP), has retained his daughter, Supriya Sule, and Amol Kolhe for Baramati and Shirur respectively, while naming candidates for Wardha, Dindori, Beed, Bhiwandi and Ahmednagar. VBA chief Prakash Ambedkar has thrown his support behind Sule for Baramati and the Congress candidates for Nagpur and Kolhapur.

Which are seats in contention?

Both coalitions, which have been stitched recently, face the difficult task of allying parties which have traditionally faced off each other in poll battle.

Though BJP and Shiv Sena have been old allies, the two saffron parties have fallen out over seat and power-sharing. On the other hand, the Sena-BJP combine and NCP have always contested against each other and hence are finding it difficult to split seats, choose candidates and transfer support. Similarly, Congress and Shiv Sena have been bitter rivals and have openly criticised each other despite being allies since 2019. NCP founder Sharad Pawar is acting as the conduit between the two parties as they seek to reach a compromise.

Nashik: With incumbent MP Hemant Godse from the Shiv Sena, the Eknath Shinde faction has staked a claim to the seat. However, NCP wants to to field senior minister Chhagan Bhujbal from Nashik. While Mr. Godse has already hit the campaign trail, Mr. Bhujbal has claimed that he has BJP’s backing.

Amravati: Incumbent MP and new BJP joinee Navneet Rana has been fielded by the BJP for Amravati, irking several allies. Mahayuti ally and Prahar Janshakti Party chief Bacchu Kadu has refused to campaign for her, threatening to quit the Mahayuti while former Shiv Sena MP Anandrao Adsul – who was trounced by Ms. Rana in 2019 – has termed her candidature ‘political suicide.’ Mr. Adsul, who has also challenged Ms. Rana’s caste, is planning to field his son Abhijit as an independent MP.

Baramati : The sugar-rich Baramati — a Pawar bastion — will see a battle between the two NCPs. Incumbent MP Supriya Sule from Sharad Pawar’s faction is being challenged by Deputy CM Ajit Pawar’s wife Sunetra Pawar. The entire Pawar clan, with the exception of Ajit Pawar’s immediate family, has thrown its support behind Sharad Pawar and begun campaigning for Ms. Sule, making the poll-battle an uphill task for the Deputy CM.

Moreover, Ms. Pawar’s candidature was challenged by Shiv Sena leader Vijay Shivtare, who had urged Mr. Shinde to field him instead to make Baramati ‘free from Pawars’. After many rounds of talks, Mr. Shivtare has decided to not contest as an independent candidate.

Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg : Another Sena turf. Shinde’s faction seeks the coastal constituency in its kitty as the current MP, Vinayak Raut, belongs to Sena’s Thackeray faction. However, Union Minister Narayan Rane, who hails from Malvan, has declared that he will contest from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg if BJP chooses him. Mr. Rane, a former Shiv Sena leader, has a bitter rivalry with Mr. Thackeray and has attacked him publicly on several occasions.

Shirdi : A seat reserved for the Scheduled Castes. Shiv Sena has already fielded Sadashiv Lokhande to face the Thackeray faction’s Bhausaheb Wakchaure – a former Shirdi MP who had jumped ship from Sena to BJP. However, MNS chief Raj Thackeray, who is in talks with BJP, is reportedly seeking three seats – Mumbai South, Nashik and Shirdi. BJP has not finalised any offer to MNS yet, as it is still finalising its pact with Sena and NCP.

Mumbai North-West : A bone of contention for both coalitions has emerged in the form of Mumbai North West. In the Maha Vikas Aghadi camp, Thackeray’s Sena faction has already fielded Amol Kirtikar in anticipation that his father Gajanan Kirtikar, who is the incumbent MP, may be fielded by Shinde’s Sena faction. However, Thackeray’s ally Congress too wanted to field its candidate and ex-MP Sanjay Nirupam from the seat. A miffed Mr. Nirupam accused Congress of ‘letting Sena arm-twist it,’ before quitting the party. He was later expelled by Congress and is likely to join Shinde’s Sena faction.

The Mahayuti, too, is facing trouble over the seat. While the seat falls to Sena as per the seat-sharing pact, BJP is seeking a swap with Sena for its Mumbai South seat. With the North-West region having a majority Hindi-speaking population, BJP seeks to field a north Indian face. While incumbent MP Mr. Kirtikar too seeks re-election, actor Govinda, who recently joined Shinde’s Sena faction is also in contention for the seat.

Mumbai South : A three-way battle is underway for the Mumbai South seat in the Mahayuti coalition to face Shiv Sena (UBT)’s candidate Arvind Sawant. Congress-turned-Sena leader Milind Deora, who has been elevated to the Rajya Sabha, is eyeing his old Lok Sabha constituency, while BJP is seeking to field Maharashtra Legislative Assembly speaker Rahul Narwekar from the seat. MNS, which is also seeking a place in the Mahayuti, is in talks to field its leader Bala Nandangaonkar from South Mumbai.

Madha : Another seat from Maharashtra’s sugar belt, Madha falls under the Pawar clan’s turf. While BJP has fielded incumbent MP Ranjitsinh Naik-Nimbalkar, NCP leader Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil is reportedly miffed by the saffron party’s move. Belonging to the influential Mohite-Patil clan, Mr. Patil, sugar baron and a close confidante of Sharad Pawar, was seeking to contest from the seat on a ticket from Ajit Pawar’s NCP faction. In the wake of this rift, NCP (SP) chief Sharad Pawar met with Mr. Patil in a bid to woo him back, raising alarm in the BJP, which is currently trying to placate Mr. Patil.

Mumbai South-Central : Thackeray’s Sena faction has ruffled Congress’ feathers by announcing its Rajya Sabha MP Anil Desai from this seat without prior notice. The grand old party is keen to field Dalit leader Varsha Gaikwad from this seat, with a senior Congress leader threatening Thackeray to go solo on all 48 seats if his party was ‘up to such mischief’.

Bhiwandi : A rare tussle between Congress and NCP (SP) is brewing in Bhiwandi as both parties lay lclaim to the seat. With the constituency being a traditional Congress turf, the party’s Dayanand Choraghe has sought a Congress ticket. However, the Pawar NCP faction has announced Suresh Mhatre as its candidate, angering Congress supporters.

Sangli : Thackeray’s Sena faction and Congress have locked horns over Sangli, with the former announcing wrestler Chandrahar Patil as its pick for the seat. However, the grand old party is adamant in fielding Vishal Patil, the grandson of former Chief Minister Vasantdada Patil from Sangli, accusing Sena of insulting ‘Aghadi Dharma.’ Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut has affirmed his party’s demand, asking, “Will Congress give up the fight against the BJP just for one seat (Sangli)?

Thane : The party has declared it will contest from Thane, stronghold of Shiv Sena chief Eknath Shinde, amidst a fight with BJP over the seat. While Sena has not fielded a candidate for the seat, its leader Deepak Kesarkar has stated that the seat will be fought under the bow and arrow symbol, whoever the candidate may be. Citing late Sena leaders Balasaheb Thackeray and Anand Dighe’s influence over the seat, Sena workers have accused BJP of trying to diminish its presence in the state. BJP MLA Ganesh Naik and his son Sanjeev Naik are seeking to contest from the Sena turf.

Maharashtra goes to the polls on April 19 and 26, and May 7, 13, and 20. Results will be announced on June 4.

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