BJP Gives 12-Hour to Shiv Sena on Seat-Sharing in Maharashtra..?
NEW DELHI : A day after the BJP blinked on seat sharing with long-time ally Shiv Sena for next month’s Maharashtra polls, the party has set a deadline for the Sena.Sources in the BJP say the party wants to contest a minimum of 130 of the 288 seats in the Maharashtra assembly and have given a 12-hour deadline to the Shiv Sena. If the Sena does not respond, the BJP will consider going it alone in Maharashtra, the sources said.
However, the Sena has categorically stated that the final call on seat sharing will be taken by its chief Uddhav Thackeray.
“We do not care about any deadline. Uddhav Thackeray will take the final call. Maharashatra will back Uddhav Thackeray,” said Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut.
The fresh stand-off comes a day after the BJP, in what was seen as a climb-down from its demand of 135 seats, drew up a list of 119 seats that the party would like to contest in Maharashtra. “We have sent a list of 119 seats to central leadership… 135 seats was just an estimate,” BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar had said.
Since then, however, it has suffered reverses in by-elections giving ally Shiv Sena an advantage in tough negotiations over seat-sharing. After a meeting at Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s Mumbai residence on Wednesday night, attended by senior Maharashtra unit leaders, the BJP said it wanted its 25-year alliance with the Sena to continue.
The BJP earlier argued that its superior performance in the national elections four months ago has earned it the right to an equal number of seats to contest. It had suggested a formula that the two partners contest 135 seats each in the 288-member state Assembly and leave 18 for their smaller allies.
The Sena insisted that it must continue to be the senior partner in the state and contest more seats, at least 155. It said the by-election results vindicate its stand that the general elections will have no bearing on state elections. The stakes are high as the party with the most legislators will have the bigger claim to the Chief Minister’s post if the alliance wins.