A head of the Lok Sabha elections next year, the ruling coalition in Maharashtra is showing signs of a tussle between the Ajit Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Eknath Shinde's Shiv Sena over allocation of seats, sources told India Today.
Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, in a newspaper interview, had announced that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) plans to contest 26 out of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.
However, it is yet to be seen how the remaining 22 seats will be divided between Chief Minister Eknath Shinde's Shiv Sena faction and the Ajit Pawar-led NCP.
Sources also said that Ajit Pawar camp is planning to contest 11 seats out of the remaining 22. The current distribution sees CM Shinde's faction with 13 sitting MPs, while the Ajit Pawar faction has only one — Sunil Tatkare from the Raigad constituency.
The Ajit Pawar faction is likely to lay claim to three seats — Maval, Kolhapur, and Nashik — which were won by members of Shiv Sena in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections - before the party's split.
Additionally, there is a push from the Pawar camp to secure constituencies such as Parbhani, Dharashiv, and South Mumbai, which are currently held by MPs from Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena (UBT).
A senior NCP functionary from the Ajit Pawar camp told India Today about the electoral dynamics within key constituencies.
For instance, in the Maval Lok Sabha seat, the NCP holds two Assembly seats, the BJP three, and CM Shinde's Shiv Sena one since the 2019 Assembly polls.
Similarly, in Kolhapur, the NCP has two Assembly seats, the Congress three, and Shinde's Shiv Sena one. Nashik presents a different picture, with the NCP and BJP each holding three Assembly seats, the Congress one, and Shinde's Shiv Sena none.
The strength in Assembly seats is being used by the Ajit Pawar faction as leverage to negotiate control over the three Lok Sabha seats currently under Shiv Sena. However, sources said that Eknath Shinde appears unwilling to concede any Lok Sabha seats to the Pawar camp.