Knives are out in the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance in Maharashtra less than a month before the Lok Sabha elections. The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT)’s decision to announce its first list of candidates for the polls has turned into a flashpoint, with the Congress objecting to the former’s claim on three key seats that were still under discussion.

On Wednesday, Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam, who was eyeing the Mumbai North-West seat, lashed out at the Sena (UBT), accusing it of violating “alliance dharma”.

He even scoffed at Sena’s Mumbai North-West candidate, Amol Kirtikar, as a “khichdi chor” after he was summoned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with alleged irregularities in the distribution of ‘khichdi’ to migrants during the coronavirus pandemic.

What has further irked the Congress is the fact that seat-sharing talks were still on and some of the seats that the Sena (UBT) had declared were going to polls in the third and fourth phases.


Seat-sharing talks between Maha Vikas Aghadi partners have been stuck on four seats – Sangli, Mumbai South-Central, Mumbai North-West, and Bhiwandi.

While the first three are the bone of contention between the Congress and Team Uddhav, Sharad Pawar’s NCP wants the Bhiwandi seat, a Congress stronghold.

The Congress, in fact, had asked the Sena (UBT) not to announce a candidate from Mumbai North-West without consulting the party. The Sena (UBT), however, shrugged off that request, fielding Amol Kirtikar, son of sitting MP Gajanan Kirtikar, instead.

The move angered Sanjay Nirupam who asked the Congress leadership to intervene, adding an “I am open to all options” for good measure.

“I will wait for a week for the Congress leadership to take a decision, after which I am open to all the options,” Nirupam, 59, said at a press conference.

Sources said that while the Congress was willing to give up Mumbai North-West, it was adamant on keeping Sangli and Mumbai South-Central as it was confident about winning both seats.

In the last Congress election committee meeting in Delhi, Sonia Gandhi reportedly asked Maharashtra leaders not to give up their claim on seats where they felt the party could win.

The Shiv Sena (UBT) has picked Chandrahar Patil for the Sangli seat. The Congress was looking at fielding Vishal Patil, grandson of former Chief Minister Vasant Patil, from Sangli, and Mumbai president Varsha Gaikwad from the Mumbai South Central seat.

Sources said the Congress may go for a friendly fight on these two disputed seats as the party is confident that the Sena (UBT) candidates are not strong enough to take on the ruling Mahayuti alliance. Also, Congress cannot afford to hurt the sentiments of their local cadre and traditional vote bank.


The second flashpoint was the Kolhapur seat, where the MVA had announced Shahu Maharaj Chhatrapati – the head of the erstwhile Kolhapur royal family – as its candidate. The Sena (UBT) wanted Shahu Maharaj to contest under its symbol.

However, Shahu Maharaj’s name figured in Congress’s list of candidates. The move upset the Sena as the party felt that the Congress engaged in backdoor politics to make Shahu Maharaj contest under its name and symbol.

Another bone of contention is the Bhiwandi seat. The NCP contends that Congress has won the seat just once in 2009, but has lost the two elections thereafter. The Congress, however, is in no mood to relent.


The rift between the Congress and the Shiv Sena (UBT) will only hurt the performance of the MVA. The Sena (UBT) will need the support of the Congress to win seats in Mumbai. On the other hand, the Congress will need the Sena (UBT) if it aims to upstage its rivals in the Marathwada region and Ramtek.

Sources said the Shiv Sena may contest 22 seats, Congress 15 seats, and the NCP 10. One seat may be given to the Swabhimani Shetkari Saghtana.

According to the equation, the Congress and the NCP together have a vote share of around 34%. With the Shiv Sena (UBT), this vote share went over 40%. However, with the allies fighting it out in the open, things look uncertain for the MVA bloc.

(With inputs from Ritvick Arun Bhalekar)

Published By:

Abhishek De

Published On:

Mar 27, 2024

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