Mumbai: Left out in the Lok Sabha race with the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena alliance dividing Maharashtra's 48 parliamentary constituencies among themselves, the National Democratic Alliance's smaller constituents in the state on Monday also demanded they also be given seats to contest.
The Republican Party of India-A, the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and the Shiv Sangram leaders held a separate meeting to discuss the political strategy after being ignored by the BJP-Sena leaders who announced a tie-up last Monday.
In a veiled warning, RPI-A President and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale revealed that they are being wooed by the opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party to join their grand alliance.
"However, we have decided to stand firmly behind Prime Minister Narendra Modi. That does not mean we should be taken for granted and ignored in the seat-sharing formula," he said.
For starters, the RPI-A has demanded at least one Lok Sabha seat in Mumbai, either Mumbai South or Mumbai North-East, and one elsewhere in the state, either Latur, Ramtek or Solapur to contest, besides 8-10 seats in the Assembly elections due later this year.
The RSP's Mahadev Jankar, who is a minister in the state government, and Shiv Sangram chief Vinayak Mete, who holds a ministerial rank post, have also demanded that they should be suitably included in the alliance.
Athawale said that the two bigger parties should have taken the smaller parties into confidence and included them in their alliance talks instead of arriving at their own independent seat-sharing agreement.
"If needed, I shall meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, with whom I enjoy good rapport, and also BJP President Amit Shah and the PM for our legitimate demands," he said.
After weeks of dilly-dallying, the BJP-Sena suddenly announced their alliance for the Lok Sabha in which they will share 25-23 seats respectively, and also in the Assembly elections where they will contest an equal number of seats after accounting for the smaller partners.
However, the smaller parties - who have their own pockets of influence - are clearly not amused and want the BJP and Shiv Sena to accommodate them by allotting Lok Sabha seats from their respective quotas.
Athawale is currently a member of the Rajya Sabha, while Jankar and Mete are also members of the state Legislative Council.
As per current indications, the BJP-Sena appear to be in no mood to oblige the smaller parties as far as Lok Sabha seats are concerned though they may give them a share in the assembly polls.
In a bid to pressurize the bigger parties, the smaller parties are likely to stay away from events organized by the BJP-Sena until their demands are met.