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United saffron alliance can win over 240 seats in Maharashtra: Athawale

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: September 18, 2019  | 20:31 IST

New Delhi, Sep 18 (PTI) Pitching for an early seat-sharing arrangement among the NDA constituents for the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly polls, Union minister Ramdas Athawale on Wednesday said a united saffron alliance could win over 240 seats in the 288-member House. Asked about the ongoing seat-sharing talks between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena, the two main alliance partners, Athawale said one suggestion was that the Sena should contest 125 seats, leaving the rest for the BJP and the smaller parties. "I hope the alliance is sealed quickly. We can win over 240 seats," he said. Athawale, a Dalit face of the saffron alliance in Maharashtra who heads the Republican Party of India (A), said there was a bigger "wave" in favour of the ruling alliance in the state compared to 2014 and claimed that it could win over 240 seats in the election to the 288-member Assembly. The BJP and the Sena, the two main National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners, had contested separately in the 2014 Maharashtra polls and won 122 and 63 seats respectively. They joined hands after the polls to form the government with the BJP's Devendra Fadnavis as the chief minister. Athawale said the BJP and the Sena should leave 18 seats for the other allies, including 10 for his party. Noting that Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar had already announced that his party and the Congress would contest 125 seats each, leaving the rest to the other allies, he said the BJP and the Sena should also seal their deal at the earliest. BJP sources said the party was keen that the Sena agree to contesting around 110 seats, which would be more than the total number of seats it had won or finished second to the opposition parties in 2014. During the talks between BJP president Amit Shah and Sena chief Uddhav Thackerey in February, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, both parties had agreed to contesting an equal number of seats in the Assembly election. A section of the BJP leaders has, however, pitched for the party bagging a lion's share of seats, citing a change in the political situation in Maharashtra, following its unprecedented victory in the general election. PTI KR RC

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