Even as the Opposition INDIA alliance held its conclave in Mumbai over Thursday and Friday, the Maharashtra NDA held parallel meetings in the city. And even before INDIA came out with its resolution to fight the 2024 Lok Sabha elections together, “as far as possible”, the NDA had already passed a resolution to do so.
The NDA meeting coincided with the Centre’s surprise announcement to hold a special session of Parliament between September 18 and September 22, with a buzz immediately starting on a possible legislation to bring in “one nation, one election”.
Broadly, the objective of the NDA meeting was said to be reinforcement of the urgency and necessity to put up a united front in the state, keeping aside individual aspirations and demands of the partners, and to work under the alliance banner with a single agenda: ‘Mission Maharashtra 2024’.
छत्रपती शिवाजी महाराज, शाहू, फुले, आंबेडकर या महापुरुषांच्या, महामानवांच्या विचारांवरतीच राष्ट्रवादी काँग्रेस… pic.twitter.com/vuKNtfGmM0
— Ajit Pawar (@AjitPawarSpeaks) September 1, 2023
The NDA meetings over the two days were attended by the BJP, Shiv Sena (Shinde) and NCP (Ajit Pawar), apart from smaller allies such as the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha, Republican Party of India (Athavale), Republican Party of India (Kawade), Prahar Jan Shakti, Jan Surajya Party, Bahujan Vikas Aghadi and the Ryat Kranti. While Thursday’s meeting was confined to NDA leaders, Cabinet ministers and state chiefs of the respective parties, on Friday, the NDA ministers, MLAs, MPs and district office-bearers from across Maharashtra were present as well.
Strategies were thrashed out, as well as challenges identified for the 2024 polls at the two meetings.
Sources said that while it might project confidence, NDA partners are apprehensive about the elections, particularly to the Assembly, not being a cakewalk. The NDA government was cobbled together after splits in two of the main constituents, the Shiv Sena and the NCP. How this plays out on the ground in coordinating party cadres remains untested.
— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) September 1, 2023
In 2019, the NDA had comprised the Shiv Sena and BJP, and its main rivals were the Congress and NCP. On both sides, smaller allies had been allocated three-four seats each. If seat-sharing will be a nightmare for INDIA, it might not be easy for the NDA either.
A BJP minister said, “With the NCP (Ajit Pawar) also part of the coalition, we have to take care not to antagonise potential candidates.” Another insider said the talks over seats would be an “ordeal”. “There are 48 seats in the Lok Sabha and 288 in the Assembly. The BJP, Shinde and Ajit Pawar factions have a surfeit of potential candidates.”
BJP leaders admitted that senior leaders in the party would have to be ready for compromises in their turfs to keep partners happy.
Already, hard bargaining is said to be on, even though Chief Minister Eknath Shinde insisted after the NDA meetings: “Seat-sharing will be resolved through dialogue and consensus. Nobody will be denied their rights.”
जोपर्यंत चंद्र-सूर्य आहे, तोपर्यंत मुंबई महाराष्ट्रापासून कोणी तोडू शकत नाही, अशा शब्दांत मुख्यमंत्री मा. ना. श्री. @mieknathshinde साहेबांनी आज महायुतीच्या बैठकीत बोलताना मुंबईसह महाराष्ट्राला विश्वास दिला. पंतप्रधान मा. श्री. @narendramodi साहेबांच्या नेतृत्वात लोकसभा आणि… pic.twitter.com/EP9sk0BJYQ
Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said: “Every party and its workers have aspirations. They want to know where they stand and what they will get. But this is not the time to think of the self. Everybody within the NDA will have to keep their individual ambitions on hold.”
He added: “The NDA will have to come together and work with single-minded focus to get PM Narendra Modi reelected with a bigger mandate.”
In both the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had won 23 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats, with the undivided Shiv Sena that was its ally winning 18. HOPE THIS IS CORRECT. The BJP keeps repeating that it believes it can win all 48 this time.
A senior BJP functionary said that while the NDA meeting was called to counter the INDIA bloc, “the call for one nation, one election” had added an urgency to their moves.
While the Lok Sabha polls are scheduled for April-May 2024, the Maharashtra Assembly would see polls in the normal course in October-November 2024. A section of the Maharashtra BJP has been urging the Centre to hold simultaneous polls.
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