Even as the BJP and Shiv Sena are yet to iron out whether or not they will continue their existing alliance, which is at the head of governments in Mumbai, Maharashtra and at the Centre, the Congress and NCP appear to have ironed out how they will split seats for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
As per senior NCP leader Praful Patel, the Rahul Gandhi- and Sharad Pawar-led parties have each agreed to contest 20 seats each out of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra. On the remaining eight seats, a decision is yet to be taken.
There has been significant discussion over the past few months about the Congress-NCP's seat-sharing alliance in Maharashtra. In the 2014 polls, the Congress contested in 26 seats while the NCP fielded candidates in 21, with one remaining seat being left to a smaller alliance partner. However, the Congress only won two seats while the NCP won four, as a result of which the NCP presented the argument that it should be the senior alliance partner in 2019. Other smaller parties also need to be accommodated -- it remains to be seen whether these smaller parties will be allowed to field candidates from all 8 remaining seats or whether the Congress and NCP will divide some of those up among them as well.
The latest issue of Republic TV's National Approval Ratings had projected that the NCP-Congress alliance would thrive in the Lok Sabha polls. The projection suggests that the combined UPA could win as many as 30 seats if elections were held right now, with the NDA (sans Shiv Sena) winning just 16 and the Shiv Sena, the remaining two. In terms of vote-share too, the UPA is projected to be ahead of the NDA (sans Shiv Sena) at 42.2% versus 38%. Sena alone is projected to get 8.2% votes.
While the Sena-BJP (re)alliance has been on the anvil for a number of months now, both parties appear to be becoming increasingly testy with each other, with BJP party president Amit Shah telling the party's Maharashtra functionaries, as per sources, that the BJP wouldn't make a compromise to ally with the Sena and should be prepared to contest the elections solo. Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena has been attacking the BJP repeatedly on every issue, from Ayodhya to Rafale to the passing away of famed Cricket coach Ramakant Achrekar.