Updated February 4th, 2024 at 15:59 IST

Maharashtra Politics: Uddhav Sena vs Congress in Mumbai Lok Sabha Seat-sharing, Battle Begins

The struggles within the MVA over seat-sharing for Mumbai in the Lok Sabha Elections 2024 continue, with several rounds of failed talks.

Reported by: Sandip Singh
MVA leaders Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray, Nana Patole, Balasaheb Thorat, Sanjay Raut and Ashok Chavan | Image:PTI
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Mumbai: Despite several rounds of meetings over seat-sharing in Maharashtra, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) is yet to come to a conclusion over the number of seats in the Lok Sabha Elections 2024.

The Congress is firm for its number of seats, as it was the runner-up in the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections in Mumbai. However, the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Bal Thackeray) is equally firm on contesting on the same number of seats as the previous elections. UBT Sena  claims that the erstwhile undivided Shiv Sena had won in the previous elections with a majority.

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Seats on which Congress and UBT Sena are firm

There are 3 Lok Sabha seats which both the Congress and Uddhav Sena are not willing to leave for the Alliance partners. These seats are Mumbai South, Mumbai South Central and Mumbai Northwest.

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When the undivided Shiv Sena fought these seats in 2019 with their then ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP ), they defeated all the Congress candidates.

Now, as the Shiv Sena is divided into two groups - UBT Sena and Shinde Sena - the former is not willing to leave the seats for Congress, claiming the previous win.

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In 2019, the undivided Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant had defeated Milind Deora, with the latter contesting on Congress party's ticket from Mumbai South. In 2024, Milind Deora switched from Congress to Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde's Shiv Sena.

The Mumbai Northwest Seat was also won by an undivided Shiv Sena candidate - Gajanan Kirtikar - who is now with Shinde Sena. Kirtikar had defeated Congress party's Sanjay Nirupam in 2019. 

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Rahul Shewale, who is now with Shinde Sena, had defeated veteran Congress leader Eknath Gaikwad from Mumbai South Central seat back then.

Considering the previous wins, Uddhav Sena is firm on the claim and not willing to leave the seats for Congress as part of the alliance. The Congress is also not willing to budge, as it feels that UBT Sena may lose the elections, as it may not be able to get enough votes after the divide in the party. 

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A senior Congress leader on grounds of anonymity revealed to Republic, "The seats that we have been fighting for since years, we are demanding the same seats, be it South Mumbai, South Central or North West Mumbai. These are the traditional seats of the Congress party.”

“The party lost during the (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi Wave. We have a strong party base in the region whereas Uddhav Thackeray got votes because of the Modi Wave and Congress was always the runner-up in the last two elections. So, we can't give up these seats. We feel Uddhav Thackeray doesn't have enough support, as his party is divided into two factions. UBT also does not have strong candidates and hence, Congress is a strong contender here," he explained.

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Priya Dutt lost two elections, but Congress still firm on North Central Seat

Priya Dutt continued her father Sunil Dutt’s legacy seat in Mumbai North Central but failed to survive the Modi Wave. She was not willing to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections. But when the Congress coerced her, she accepted and contested, only to lose again. Priya Dutt lost to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s Poonam Mahajan.

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Congress under threat of more people leaving

Now, the Congress party feels that it has a strong Muslim vote bank in this region of Mumbai, specifically Bandra and Kurla areas, which have a huge Muslim population. But most importantly, Congress is facing a threat from its own leaders, as many of them are on the verge of leaving the party.

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After Milind Deora quit the Congress for the Shinde Sena, there's a strong buzz that Baba Siddiqui, former MLA from Bandra West, is all set to join Ajit Pawar's faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) along with his son Zeeshan Siddiqui.

Hence it's a matter of concern for Congress to make sure it doesn't lose hold on its traditional constituencies. If that happens, it may lead to dissatisfaction and more people switching over from the Congress.

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Published February 4th, 2024 at 15:59 IST