BJP President Amit Shah flanked by Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis during the announcement of an alliance between Shiv Sena and BJP for Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, in Mumbai (Photographer: Shirish Shete/PTI) 

Modi to Renew Alliance With Regional Ally in Richest India State

(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has struck an alliance with a powerful regional group in India’s richest state, giving an electoral boost to the ruling coalition ahead of the general election.

The BJP and the Shiv Sena have entered into a seat-sharing agreement, Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of Maharashtra, said at a press conference in Mumbai on Monday in the presence of BJP president Amit Shah and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. The BJP will contest 25 seats in the state of 112 million people, while the Shiv Sena will fight in 23 of the 48 federal seats in the state, which sends the second-highest number of lawmakers to parliament.

Monday’s announcement ends years of bickering between the two parties, which share a Hindu-nationalist ideology and have been allies for about three decades. But their relationship soured and they ended their local partnership over seat-sharing disagreements in state-level elections in 2014. As opposition parties gain strength ahead of the elections due by May, the BJP and Shiv Sena decided to partner in the key state.

“This is not only a political agreement but also a partnership of principles,” said Shah in Mumbai. They expect to win at least 45 seats in the federal election in Maharashtra, he said.

Shiv Sena, the second biggest party in Modi’s coalition, remained a BJP partner at the federal level, but has continued to criticize Modi and his government.

After Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra is India’s second-most populous state, and is key to forming the government at the national level. The Shiv Sena has a strong support base in Maharashtra, where they advocate on behalf of locals, largely against immigrants from other parts of India to the state.

The state capital of Mumbai, a city of 18 million people, is home to companies such as Reliance Industries Ltd. and Tata Group, India’s two main stock markets, and the country’s film industry. It’s also home to some of India’s biggest slums.

In the 2014 federal elections, both the parties together won 41 of the 48 Maharashtra seats that helped Modi to the biggest mandate in three decades.

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