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Mumbai: Talks with Sena inconclusive, BJP firms up poll strategy

“The BJP and RSS have decided to work on a two-pronged strategy to enhance the party’s vote share on one hand and negate NOTA votes on the other,” a BJP source said.

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai |
January 23, 2019 3:49:03 am
bjp sena alliance, devendra fadnavis, shiva sean, nota votes, rss, bjp, lok sabha elections, Mumbai news, indian express Hopeful about a pre-poll pact with the Sena, the BJP for now is steering clear of the 18 seats held by the Sena. (Express File Photo)

With pre-poll alliance talks with the Shiv Sena continuing to be inconclusive, the state BJP is firming up alternative strategies to win 38 to 40 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.

“The BJP and RSS have decided to work on a two-pronged strategy to enhance the party’s vote share on one hand and negate NOTA votes on the other,” a BJP source said.

The party feels NOTA votes between 5,000 and 25,000 in any LS constituency would mar the electoral prospects of BJP candidates, the source added. “The RSS is working to press the significance of the decisive votes on the party cadre,” a BJP office-bearer said.

Maharashtra has the second largest LS seats after Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 LS seats. “The Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party alliance in Uttar Pradesh is a cause of concern. In the backdrop of these developments, there is tremendous pressure on the BJP in Maharashtra to win maximum seats,” a senior BJP functionary said.

“The electoral outcome in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh was a big lesson. The substantial increase in NOTA vote share has set political leaders worried in Maharashtra. In the next one month, there will be a massive drive against NOTA,” a party office-bearer said.

A senior BJP Cabinet minister, requesting anonymity, said, “The BJP-Shiv Sena pre-poll alliance talks are still on at the top level. But the final decision is likely only in mid-February. However, considering the challenges, the BJP has set in motion its ‘plan B’.”

Explaining, a source said, “Our attempt is to consolidate our gains in 30 LS seats in the first phase, which is January-end. These include 23 sitting seats, which the BJP won in the last elections. Apart from these, we will carry out groundwork in seven seats, which were bagged by the Opposition in the 2014 polls. These include two seats held by the Congress, four by the NCP and one by the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana.”

Hopeful about a pre-poll pact with the Sena, the BJP for now is steering clear of the 18 seats held by the Sena. A senior BJP general secretary, requesting anonymity, said, “When we say we will work on the 18 Sena seats in the second phase, it relates to candidates and carpet coverage. But even in these 18 seats, we have completed the process of setting up booths. In every booth, there are a minimum 10 to 25 party workers.”

The seven seats where the BJP expects the toughest fight are Nanded, Hingoli, Satara, Kolhapur, Madha, Baramati and Hatkanangale. Even during the Modi wave in 2014, the Congress-NCP retained its sway on these six seats. The Congress won Nanded and Hingoli. Whereas, the NCP won Satara, Baramati, Madha and Kolhapur.

The lone seat Hathkanangale, which was won by Raju Shetti of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, is also turning out to be a challenge for the ruling BJP.

The 23 seats which were won by the BJP were Nandurbar, Dhule, Dindori, Raver, Palghar, Bhiwandi, Ahmednagar, Beed, Jalna, Sangli, Solapur, Latur, Akola, Wardha, Chandrapur, Bhandara-Gondia, Gadchiroli-Chimur, Latur, Jalgaon, Mumbai-Central, Mumbai North, Mumbai North-East. The Shiv Sena won 18 seats: Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Osmanabad, Shirdi, Maval, Raigad, Mumbai-South, Mumbai South-Central, Mumbai North West, Thane, Kalyan-Dombivali, Nashik, Aurangabad, Parbhani, Yavatmal, Ramtek, Amravati, Buldhana.

The vote share: BJP (27.56 per cent); Shiv Sena (20.82 per cent); Congress (18.29 per cent); NCP (16.12 per cent); Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (6.82 per cent); others/smaller parties (17.21 per cent).

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