Three of their MPs dropped, Sena ticket aspirants anxious as Mahayuti yet to seal seat-sharing deal

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Eknath Gangubai Sambhaji Shinde

Shiv Sena supremo and Maharashtra Chief Minster Eknath Shinde (File image)

Mumbai: There is a growing unease among Lok Sabha ticket aspirants in the Shiv Sena amid its decision to drop three sitting MPs and the ongoing seat-sharing talks between the Mahayuti partners, party sources said.

With Mahayuti constituents – BJP, Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena and NCP under Ajit Pawar – yet to reach a consensus over all the seats in Maharashtra, some Sena ticket hopefuls have even started their campaign despite the uncertainty over their nominations.

The 48 seats in the state will go to polls in five phases between April 19 and May 20.

The Sena leaders turned jittery after the party dropped sitting MPs Bhavana Gawli (Yavatmal Washim), Hemant Patil (Hingoli) and Krupal Tumane (Ramtek). Sena is unlikely to field Gajanan Kirtikar, who now represents the Mumbai North-West constituency, said party sources.

The Mahayuti is still to declare candidates for seven seats – Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Mumbai South, Aurangabad, Nashik, Palghar, Thane and Satara.

The undivided Sena had won six of these seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Now, they are being eyed by its alliance partners, primarily the BJP, a party source said.

While Maharashtra’s ruling coalition hasn’t named its candidate for the Mumbai North-Central, it has allotted the constituency to the BJP as part of the seat-sharing agreement.

On its part, the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi comprising Congress, Shiv Sena (UBT) and Sharad Pawar-led NCP (SP) has sealed its seat-sharing pact, though it is yet to declare candidates for Mumbai North (Congress), Madha (Sharad Pawar group) and Mumbai North Central (Congress).

Sena insiders said that the BJP was keen on contesting either in Thane or Kalyan, currently represented by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s son Shrikant Shinde.

The Shiv Sena has, however, been reluctant to cede the two seats to the BJP. Last week, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced the candidature of Shrikant Shinde.

“Thane is the bastion of chief minister Shinde. So there is little possibility over the Shiv Sena leaving the CM's home turf for the BJP,” a party functionary said.

Discontent is also brewing over the Nashik seat, where two-time MP Hemant Godse has begun campaigning amid NCP’s efforts to claim it for Maharashtra Food and Civil Supplies Minister Chhagan Bhujbal.

“There is an unease as the Shiv Sena has won the seat twice in the past polls. On my part, I have started meeting people again in the wake of the polls,” Godse told PTI, expressing confidence that he will secure the nomination.

The coastal Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg seat was represented by the undivided Shiv Sena’s Vinayak Raut, who is now a candidate of the Shiv Sena (UBT) from the same constituency.

But the BJP is now claiming the seat for Union minister Narayan Rane, a bitter critic of Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray, a party insider said.

State Industries Minister and Sena MLA Uday Samant’s elder brother Kiran Samant is also keen on the seat and has apparently started preparing for the polls.

There is a palpable tussle between the BJP and Shiv Sena over the South Mumbai seat.

BJP’s Rahul Narwekar, also the Speaker of Maharashtra assembly, started campaigning in the constituency a month ago. So has Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP and former Union minister Milind Deora, who has represented the seat twice in the past. Even Shiv Sena’s deputy leader Yashwant Jadhav, husband of party's Byculla's MLA Yamini Jadhav, is keen on contesting from here.

The Aurangabad seat in the Marathwada region is being claimed by the Sena and BJP. The same is the case with Palghar.

BJP and NCP are staking claim to the Satara seat, but the saffron party’s Rajya Sabha MP Udayanraje Bhosale, a descendant of Maratha empire founder Shivaji, has already started campaigning.