BJP-Shiv Sena alliance survives tussle over seat sharing

Mumbai, Sep 19 :

Resolving the tussle over seat-sharing which almost led to the BJP and the Shiv Sena ending their 25-year-old alliance, the two parties Friday announced they would unitedly fight the Oct 15 Maharashtra assembly elections and the division of seats would be worked out amicably.

The development followed a meeting between top leaders of the two parties in the evening, hours after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rejected outright the Sena’s latest formula of 119-169 seats, and leaders of both parties indicated the alliance was on the verge of breaking up.

BJP-SHIV SENAHowever, a ray of hope emerged when union minister Nitin Gadkari met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi over the issue.

In the meeting held between BJP in-charge of Maharashtra O.P. Mathur and Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray here, besides other senior leaders, both sides reiterated their willingness to stick to the alliance.

“There were some misunderstandings which have been clarified… both sides want to continue the alliance. The issue of seat-sharing will be finalized later Friday night after discussing it with Sena president Uddhav Thackeray,” said senior Sena leader Subhash Desai.

“Our aim is to make Maharashtra corruption-free and Congress-free. We will do everything that is in the interest of the state. We want to continue the alliance,” said Aditya Thackeray who is credited with successfully ending the impasse.

The crucial meeting followed submission of a fresh seat-sharing proposal made by senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar and others, which speaks of retaining the seats which both parties have won in the past and a review of the seats which they have never won.

This would leave around 110 seats with Sena and 100 with BJP which both have won at least once in the past elections to the 288 seat assembly.

Another 59 seats which Shiv Sena has never bagged and 19 which BJP has never won would figure in the final discussions besides the share of the other smaller partners in the alliance.

The other point of contention was projecting Uddhav Thackeray as the next chief ministerial candidate. There has also been no commitment from the BJP on who the candidate will be or from which party.

Earlier Friday afternoon, Mungantiwar had made a passionate appeal how the BJP had always adopted a spirit of “sacrifice” on several occasions in the past 25 years to save the alliance from breaking.

“We have always kept a large heart in the past to save the alliance. When Shiv Sena wanted to project Sharad Pawar as prime minister, we did not object. Similarly, when they decided to support the candidatures of Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee for president, we relented in the interest of our partnership and for the people of the state,” he said.

Leader of Opposition in assembly Eknath Khadse added that in the past few years, the BJP has given as many as six sitting seats in Lok Sabha and one Rajya Sabha to the Sena, but in return, did not get “a single assembly seat”.

“This time, we are talking about giving us seats which neither the Sena nor the BJP has ever won in all the past assembly elections. BJP will try to make inroads failing which the Congress-NCP will get the advantage there,” he said.

The duo had reiterated that the BJP was keen to continue the alliance provided it was worked out with “dignity and respect” for both parties.

The sharp tussle has suddenly changed the political scenario with optimism brewing in the ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party camp, while the alliance’s apprehensive smaller partners like the Republican Party of India-A and Swabhimani Sanghatana tried to persuade both parties to work out a compromise solution.


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