A day after meeting Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi, Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde on June 5 said the ruling Shiv Sena faction and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance would contest future elections together, including the 2024 Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections as well as the long-pending civic polls.
Mr. Shinde’s statement, which came after he and Deputy CM and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis met Mr. Shah on Saturday night, puts to rest speculation of an alleged schism within the ruling alliance.
“It was decided in this meeting that the Shiv Sena and the BJP will jointly contest all upcoming elections in the State, including elections to Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabha, local bodies). We (BJP-Shinde faction) will contest elections together and win with a majority to make Maharashtra the number one State in the country in all fields,” Mr. Shinde said.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always been guided for various projects in the State. We took this appointment as we always get guidance from Shah. Our alliance for the development of Maharashtra is strong and in the last 11 months, we have taken various development decisions and implemented them, clearing stalled projects,” tweeted the CM.
Mr. Shinde further said he discussed matters related to agriculture and the cooperative sector with Mr. Shah, who is also Union Cooperation Minister.
The CM further said he and Mr. Fadnavis had fruitful discussions regarding the pending second phase of the Maharashtra Cabinet expansion with Mr. Shah.
In March this year, BJP State President Chandrashekhar Bawankule sparked controversy within the ruling alliance when he said that the BJP would contest around 240 of the 288 seats in the 2024 Maharashtra Assembly election while their ally, the Shinde-led Shiv Sena faction (which has 50 MLAs including Chief Minister Shinde) would be given only 48 seats.
During his intra-party revolt in June last year which had toppled the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, Mr. Shinde had managed to wean away 40 of the 55 MLAs and 12 of the 18 Lok Sabha MPs from the undivided Shiv Sena over to his side.
However, the party rank-and-file have yet to budge from Uddhav Thackeray’s side and continue to remain in the Sena (UBT) faction.
This, coupled with reports concerning the alleged winnability of several of the ‘rebel’ Sena MLAs in the 2024 elections have triggered speculation that the BJP was planning to jettison Mr. Shinde’s faction or give them less seats to contest in the upcoming polls.