A month before the assembly polls, discussions over number of seats to be contested have driven a wedge into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiv Sena alliance. Angry over the Sena chief’s recent comments against PM Narendra Modi in a function, the party has ordered that no form of communication shall be entertained with the Sena.
Uddhav Thackeray and Madhav Bhandari
BJP state president Devendra Fadnavis apparently asked Madhav Bhandari, the party’s state spokesperson to make it public that talks between Sena and BJP has been stopped. The move comes after Thackeray, in a function organised by a TV channel on Saturday, said, “In Maharashtra, the Modi factor worked (in the Lok Sabha polls).
In a TV interview on Saturday Uddhav had said the Modi wave had failed to show up in several states and that the BJP’s victory in the Lok Sabha polls should be attributed to alliance partners as well. File pic
But the alliance parties must also be given credit. The Modi factor didn’t work in many states during the Lok Sabha elections.” The statement caused an uproar in the BJP to such an extent that on Sunday afternoon, after receiving orders from the Delhi high command, the party’s state chief passed on the message to halt talks with the Sena.
Bhandari said, “The BJP party workers are angry after the Sena leadership made remarks against Narendra Modi, on Saturday. The workers insisted that the party leadership stop talking to Sena and, respecting their sentiments, the BJP has stopped all forms of discussions with the Sena.”
Talks over seat-sharing and which party would install its CM assuming the alliance emerged victorious have been a bone of contention for quite some time. Editorials in Sena mouthpiece Saamana have, lately, been questioning why the BJP, which has always let Sena play big brother in Maharashtra, is now demanding a bigger piece of the pie.
One such stinging editorial cited a recent HC judgment in which a demand for ‘too much sex’ led to divorce, indicating that asking for too much would lead to the alliance being called off. Thackeray also interviewed candidates aspiring to contest the 11 Jalgaon assembly seats.
While traditionally, the Sena contests 6 seats and the BJP 5, Thackeray tested candidates for 11 seats, indicating his wish to go solo, to which the BJP has taken umbrage. Moreover, Thackeray’s attempts to project himself as the next CM also haven’t gone down too well with its ally.
“Amit Shahji has categorically said that in Maharashtra, it will be the BJP that will lead the government. So, our stand is clear. Sanjay Raut (editor of Saamana) is not a top leader of the Sena,” added Bhandari. According to another top leader, many in Delhi also called up party boss Shah asking why a regional party was taking jibes against Modi.
“We can’t afford to tolerate anything against Modi, the man who led us to an unprecedented victory and rejuvenated the cadre. It will be disastrous that the local unit keeps mum when he’s attacked. The stand is welcomed and the rank and file in the party is all happy with this decision. We won’t mind going it alone in the elections,” asserted the leader.
Another leader stated that negotiations began on the wrong note. Last week, Thackeray met Fadnavis and BJP’s national general secretary, Om Mathur, thrice. “In the very first meeting, Thackeray flatly refused to concede more seats to the BJP.
The trend, it seems, continued in the next two meetings and no tangible conclusion was reached,” he said. The party is also not happy over the indecision among the alliance partners, since it believes the poll preparations should have already begun.
BJP’s national general secretary, Rajiv Pratap Rudy (see box), in Pune yesterday for a party event, stated that the party expected seat-sharing to be 50:50. However, sources told this correspondent that Rudy told party workers there to get ready to go it alone, with or without the Sena.
Meanwhile, a clearer picture shall emerge once Shah comes to Mumbai; the party chief is expected to have dinner with treasurer Shaina NC on September 17. He will also meet top BJP leaders then and take a final call on what lies ahead.
We want equal share of seats: BJP
In an event organised in Pune, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, BJP’s national general secretary and general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra, said the party expected to share an equal number of seats with the Shiv Sena in the assembly polls.
“We expect to share 135 seats in this election with Shiv Sena after leaving some seats for the smaller parties in the Mahayuti,” said Rudy, while speaking to BJP Social Media Samwaad in Pune. “The state BJP unit has made it clear to the Shiv Sena that the seat-sharing formula will be 50:50. We are expecting their response on the basis of this formula and want to take the decision on the alliance as soon as possible.
The figure of 135 may not be final, with some seats going here and there, but we will soon inform the media when a satisfactory conclusion is reached,” Rudy added. The MP from Saran also dismissed all talks of a CM candidate, saying only the election outcome would decide who would be CM of the state.
- Inputs by Namrata Anjana