Congress mulls ‘friendly fight’ on disputed LS seats

March 30,2024

The conflict over few seats between the Congress and Shiv Sena (UBT) is likely to unsettle the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA). Irked by the way its alliance partner declared candidates for Mumbai South Central and Sangli, the Congress is now mulling the option of a “friendly fight” on disputed seats with both Sena (UBT) and NCP (SCP).

Maharashtra Congress working president Arif Naseem Khan confirmed the move underlining that the parties are unable to reach a consensus on around six seats. “We had a meeting today and decided to communicate to the central leadership that we will have friendly fights on six seats -- Sangli, Mumbai South Central, Mumbai North West, Bhiwandi and one seat each from Marathwada and Vidarbha,” said Khan. “Our party workers are upset by the move made by Shiv Sena (UBT).”

State Congress president Nana Patole, leader of opposition Vijay Wadettiwar, legislative party chief Balasaheb Thorat and Mumbai president Varsha Gaikwad were also present in the meeting, he said.

“The leadership did not like the way Shiv Sena (UBT) declared candidates on seats that were under discussion. They feel they were taken for granted by the alliance partner, which is not acceptable,” said a senior leader.

On Wednesday, the Shiv Sena (UBT) released a list of 17 candidates for Lok Sabha elections in which it chose to declare Chardrahar Patil and Anil Desai as their candidates from Sangli and Mumbai South Central constituencies respectively. The announcement was made despite both parties not reaching an agreement on the seats. Leaders from Sangli have already approached the Congress leadership to step in and resolve the conflict.

Apart from the Mumbai South Central and Sangli Lok Sabha seats, there is also a dispute between Congress and NCP over the Bhiwandi constituency. Both parties have staked claim on it.

Meanwhile, a section of Congress leaders is also trying to organise a meeting between the top MVA leaders and the party leadership in New Delhi over the next couple of days, to bring an end to the impasse.

The meeting is possible as both NCP (SCP) chief Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray have agreed to attend the INDIA bloc rally along with Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and former president Rahul Gandhi at Ramlila Maidan on March 31. The rally has been organised to show their support for arrested Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.