Mumbai, March 27: The Maharashtra Congress on Wednesday objected to the Shiv Sena (UBT) announcing its candidates for the Bhiwandi, Mumbai South Central and Sangli Lok Sabha seats, saying MVA partners must stick to "coalition dharma". Congress Legislature Party leader Balasaheb Thorat urged Sena (UBT) to reconsider its decision. However, his party colleague Sanjay Nirupam adopted a more belligerent stand, attacking their leadership for letting the Uddhav Thackeray-led outfit grab most of the seats in Mumbai.

Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) constituents Congress, Sena (UBT) and NCP (Sharadchandra Pawar) have been holding seat-sharing discussions for the 48 constituencies in Maharashtra, where the Lok Sabha polls will be held in five phases starting April 19. Amid the talks, Sena (UBT) earlier in the day released its first list of 17 candidates for the upcoming elections and said it will contest a total of 22 seats in the state. Congress Legislature Party leader Balasaheb Thorat said the announcement was not right. Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Uddhav Thackeray-Led Shiv Sena Names 16 Maharashtra LS Candidates, Three From Mumbai; Check Full List

"Everyone must follow coalition dharma. Shiv Sena (UBT) must reconsider its decision," Thorat said. He said the Congress is still firm on contesting from Sangli, Bhiwandi and Mumbai South Central. "Unfortunately, coalition dharma hasn't been followed," he said. Thorat said his party's state unit has apprised the central leadership of the developments. The senior Congress leader also lamented that Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) leader Prakash Ambedkar has announced a separate list of candidates.

Ambedkar on Wednesday announced candidates for the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra, accusing the MVA allies of trying to use his outfit to promote dynastic politics. “Considering the prevailing political situation in the country, the Congress made a genuine attempt to reach out to all parties who believe in democracy and the Constitution,” he said. Meanwhile, former Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam slammed his party leadership for allowing Sena (UBT) to grab most seats in Mumbai.

Talking to reporters, Nirupam said “all options were open” before him. “I will wait for a week and then take a decision,” he said. Nirupam, who is keen to contest the Mumbai North West parliamentary constituency, said the party leadership hasn't got in touch with him in the last fortnight. “The leadership isn't bothered that injustice is being done to its leaders and workers. Shiv Sena (UBT) is making us bend and we are doing it,” he said. Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Jolt for Maha Vikas Aghadi in Maharashtra, Prakash Ambedkar’s VBA Names Eight Candidates for LS Polls

Nirupam criticised Sena (UBT) for declaring its candidates in four out of six seats in Mumbai. “It is likely that the candidate for the fifth seat will also be declared tomorrow,” he claimed. He alleged that attempts are being made to “bury” the Congress in Mumbai and the party will pay a price for it. “I give my leaders a week's time to decide,” he said. Nirupam claimed that the Sena (UBT) has given the ticket in Mumbai North West to an accused in an alleged scam during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I will not campaign for such a candidate. Didn't the congress leadership which speaks against corruption realise this,” he asked. The Sena (UBT) has nominated Amol Kirtikar, son of Shiv Sena MP Gajanan Kirtikar who owes allegiance to CM Shinde-led Sena, from Mumbai North-West. Sena (UBT) is likely to field a candidate in Mumbai North as well, leaving only Mumbai North Central for the Congress in the megapolis.