Seat-sharing row threatens BJP-Sena ties in Maharashtra

The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, which has survived nearly two decades of ups and downs in Maharashtra, was tethering on the verge of collapse on Monday, just a month before state assembly elections.


Nithin Belle

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Published: Tue 16 Sep 2014, 8:54 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 3:02 AM

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said here that his party had rejected the BJP’s demand for 135 seats and suggested that he was willing to go it alone in the forthcoming elections.

An over-confident state unit of the BJP is hoping to repeat the performance in May, when the two saffron partners swept aside the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine in the general elections.

The death of Gopinath Munde, a senior BJP leader, in Delhi, just days after he was made a minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet, came as a big blow to the relationship between the two parties.

And with Amit Shah taking over as the BJP president, ties between the Sena and the BJP have sunk to new lows. The BJP, which was satisfied with 117 seats in the 2009 state assembly elections, this time decided to raise the ante and sought equal partnership. Of the 288 seats in the Maharashtra assembly, the Sena used to contest in 171 and the remaining 117 were kept for the BJP. This time, the BJP demanded 144 seats for itself.

However, some of the junior allies also raised their demand for more seats. The Sena-BJP have now decided to give about 18 seats to the three junior partners, leaving 270 seats for the two main parties. The BJP now wants 135 of these seats, but the Sena is vehemently opposed to the move.

Thackeray, who is being projected by a section of his party as its chief ministerial candidate, has asserted that the top post would be claimed by the Sena in case the two partners came to power in Maharashtra. On Monday, he also rejected the BJP’s claim for 135 seats, but said that talks would continue.

Many state BJP leaders are also eager to go it alone in the forthcoming elections, despite the absence of a strong leader who can be made chief minister.

Nitin Gadkari, the former BJP president — and now a senior cabinet minister at the centre — is also not seen as a strong backer of the alliance with the Sena.

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