Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, on Saturday, said that the BJP and the Shiv Sena will contest the next month's assembly polls together. The CM also said that he is confident that people will show him their support and will help him retain the post after elections.
He went on to negate media reports that pointed out that the BJP will contest 162 out of total 288 seats while the Sena will take up the remaining 126. Fadnavis' remarks come just a day after Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray asserted that both the parties will contest the elections in an alliance and that an announcement on the seat-sharing formula will be made in a couple of days. The Election Commission, on Saturday, announced the election dates for various states. Maharastra, along with Haryana will go for a single-phase election on October 21. Counting of votes will be taken up on October 24.
"I am saying with no uncertainty that we will contest the Assembly polls along with Shiv Sena. The seat-sharing talks are still on, do not trust the reports," said Fadnavis. Referring to the Sena pitching for equal sharing of the 288 seats, the chief minister said all details about the seat-sharing arrangements will be formally announced at a press briefing. Fadnavis, while answering a question, said that no decisions were dictated to Sena by BJP and that all decisions between them have been taken 'amicably'. He also said that all the decisions taken by his Cabinet were 'unanimous' and were taken with the support of Shiv Sena ministers.
While speaking about Sena's criticism of his government through party mouthpiece 'Saamana', Fadnavis said, "I don't read Saamana. No Shiv Sena minister had a second thought about any of the decisions in the last five years (since BJP-led government came to power). So, we are not concerned about what happens outside," he said in an oblique reference to 'Saamana'.
Responding to a question on whether he will get another term as the chief minister, the CM replied, rather rhetorically, "Do you have any doubt?” He also said the decision to appoint Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray as deputy chief minister, in the event of the NDA government returning to power, will be taken by the Sena and added that he looks at Aaditya becoming active in politics with a positive angle.
"He is fanning out parts of the state, trying to understand issues pertaining to Maharashtra. I welcome his decision to join active politics, I take it positively. He has to lead Shiv Sena one day. He is going through the process," Fadnavis said. The chief minister further went on to say that people believe the BJP will retain power and added that he will work in Mumbai. When questioned about the talks of him joining the national politics, Fadnavis said that the tasks for him are decided by the BJP.
The BJP and the Sena had contested the 2014 Assembly polls independently. The BJP had emerged as the single largest party winning 122 seats while the Sena pocketed 63 seats. Later, both the parties had come together to form the government.
On a related note, Sunil Arora, Chief Election Commissioner, while announcing the poll dates for various states during a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday, said that bypolls will be held in 64 seats. He also bifurcated them according to states- Madhya Pradesh (1), Meghalaya (1), Odisha (1), Puducherry (1), Punjab (4), Rajasthan (2), Sikkim (3), Tamil Nadu (2), Telangana (1), Uttar Pradesh (11) Arunachal Pradesh (1), Assam (4), Bihar (1), Chhattisgarh (1), Gujarat (4), Himachal Pradesh (2), Karnataka (15) and Kerala (5).
(With PTI Inputs)