Congress should begin seat-sharing talks in Maharashtra with 0 seats, says Sanjay Raut

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Ahead of the “formal” seat-sharing talks among INDIA bloc parties, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader Sanjay Raut hinted at no compromise over seat-sharing talks. He said on Friday their talks with the Congress on seat-sharing has to start from zero as the party has “not won any seat” in the state.

Raut added that Shiv Sena (UBT) would contest in 23 of the 48 constituencies in Maharashtra in the 2024 Lok Sabha election. “…discussions on the seats won by the Shiv Sena, the Congress and NCP will be held later,” he was quoted by PTI as saying.

“This is Maharashtra, and Shiv Sena is the biggest party here. Congress is a national party. Uddhav Thackeray is having positive discussions with the decision-making leaders of Congress including Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, and KC Venugopal,” Raut said.

 

“We have always said that Shiv Sena has always been fighting on 23 seats in the Lok Sabha elections including Dadra and Nagar Haveli and that will be firm,” Raut said.

The Shiv Sena (UBT) leader added, “We have decided that seats won by us will be discussed later. The Congress does not figure in it as it has not won any seat in Maharashtra. So talks with the Congress have to start from zero in the state,” Raut said.

Congress reacts

Reacting to this, Congress leader Milind Deora said the grand old party is the leading the Opposition in Maharashtra and no alliance can proceed without consultation with the local leadership of the state.

Deora said in a post on X, “According to Sanjay Raut ji, despite the loss of its 40 MLAs, Shiv Sena UBT remains the largest party in the MVA. He suggests that Congress should begin negotiations starting with zero seats.”

“He is talking about the party which is the largest opposition party in the Maharashtra Assembly and is leading the opposition. I want to tell Mr Sanjay Raut that no alliance can proceed without consultation with the local leadership of Maharashtra. This idea is also supported and supported by AICC,” Deora said.

 

In the 2019 general elections, the undivided Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray had contested 23 seats and won 18. However, it split last year after Shinde rebelled against Thackeray. Later, the Election Commission allowed the Shinde faction to keep the name ‘Shiv Sena’.

While the NCP under Sharad Pawar won four seats in the last Lok Sabha polls, the Congress had bagged just one seat. Its lone MP from Chandrapur, Balu Dhanorkar, died earlier this year.

Prior to Shiv Sena (UBT), Mamata Banerjee had expressed her desire to test Bengal waters alone in the next year’s Lok Sabha polls. She, however, said the INDIA alliance will contest on all seats across the country.

Apart from this, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav has been repeatedlt saying that the BJP-led NDA will be defeated in next year’s general elections by “PDA”, which he defined as “Pichde (backward classes), Dalit and Alpasankhyak (minorities)”.

Amid this, the Congress has said that talks on the agreement with all the parties will be held with an ‘open mind’. Sources said on Friday that the party will start formal conversations on seat sharing with India bloc partners from the first week of January.

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