New Delhi: Putting an end to the seat sharing issue, the ruling NDA constituents – Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena announced that they will be fighting the forthcoming Lok Sabha and the Maharashtra Assembly elections together. While the ruling BJP  will contest 25 seats, Sena will fight in 23 constituencies in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Maharashtra has a total of 48 Lok Sabha seats.Also Read - Goa Assembly Election 2022: Shiv Sena, NCP To Contest Polls Together, Seat-Sharing Discussions on January 18

Underlining that both Sena and BJP share the ‘same ideology’, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis asserted,”We have been together for over 25 years because of our shared ideologies and spirit of nationalism. In 2014 elections, owing to certain reasons we had split, but later for the past nearly five years we are in alliance in Maharashtra and at the Centre Also Read - Uttar Pradesh Assembly Election 2022: Shiv Sena to Contest on 50-100 Seats, Says Sanjay Raut

“We have taken this decision in the interest of the nation and we believe NDA will come to power in 2019,” Fadnavis added. Also Read - BMC Elections: Congress To Go Solo, Will Declare Candidates On All 236 Seats

Furthermore he informed that the BJP has accepted all major demands of the Sena including expediting the process to built the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, farmers’ issues and problems in implementing the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana to benefit the peasantry.

He added,”For Maharashtra assembly elections, we will hold discussions with our other allies. Leaving the numbers of seats taken by our allies, BJP and Shiv Sena will fight on equal number of seats.”

Besides CM Fadnavis, BJP chief Amit Shah and Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, former Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi and other senior leaders from both sides were present when the announcement was made at a joint media briefing late Monday evening.

Calling it a ‘new beginning’ Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said the ‘bitter experiences’ of the past five years would not be repeated in future, and both parties will work and fight ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’. “People are seeing Shiv Sena and BJP for past 30 years. For 25 years, we stood united and  for 5 years, there was confusion. But like CM said, I still provided guidance to government from time to time.”

On being asked about Assembly elections, Sena chief said,” State assembly elections are also in four months, seats are divided equally for it. Responsibilities will also be divided in half.”

Shah said it was the long cherished desire of party workers from both sides to work out an alliance, and finally it has been done successfully. He appealed to all workers that since the Sena is the oldest and most reliable ally, “to bury their bitterness of recent times” and start working for the elections with renewed vigour to ensure victory of the alliance in both Lok Sabha and Assembly.

Shah also reiterated that the BJP-Sena will bag 45 seats in the Lok Sabha in view of the performance of the government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

PM Narendra Modi also welcomed the decision saying that the association between the two parties (Sena and BJP) ‘goes beyond politics’.

“Our association with the Shiv Sena goes beyond politics. We are bound by a desire to see a strong and developed India. The decision to contest together strengthens the NDA significantly. I am sure our alliance is going to be Maharashtra’s first and only choice!” PM Modi tweeted.

He added, “Inspired by the vision of Atal Ji and Balasaheb Thackeray Ji, BJP-Shiv Sena alliance will continue working for the well-being of Maharashtra and ensuring the state once again elects representatives who are development oriented, non corrupt and proud of India’s cultural ethos.”

Notably, the seat sharing deal was finalised after BJP president Amit Shah and Maharashtra CM Devedra Fadnavis visited Matoshree, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s residence in suburban Bandra.

Last week as well, CM Fadnavis had met the Sena president, fuelling speculation that the bickering ruling alliance partners in Maharashtra and at the Centre may come together ahead of general elections.

The Sena in January last year announced its decision of going solo in future elections. The BJP and Shiv Sena had contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections jointly.

However, the BJP had parted ways with the Sena ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly elections held later that year. The BJP had then won 122 seats in the state while the Sena could bag only 63.