BJP to send Shiv Sena a fresh proposal, wants talks on each seat

Mumbai : Attempting to break the deadlock in seat-sharing talks for the October 15 Maharashtra assembly elections, BJP will send a fresh proposal to Shiv Sena even as it said it would like to contest many seats its saffron ally had not won in years.

"We will send a proposal to Sena on the number of seats we want to contest. There are 59 seats where Sena didn't win in the last 25 years and 19 where BJP didn't win. We want Sena to consider this fact. We want discussion on each seat," former state BJP president Sudhir Mungantiwar told reporters after a meeting of the party's state core committee.

"We have been hearing from the media that Sena has offered us the same 119 seats we contested in 2009 polls. We will not commit such a mistake of adopting a via media to convey our proposal and send it directly to Sena," he said.

There were reports that Shiv Sena had offered BJP 119 seats with a rider that it also accommodate smaller allies of 'Mahayuti', a rainbow alliance including smaller parties like RPI(A) and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, in its quota.

The BJP leader, however, made it clear that there would be no rapprochement at the cost of "self-respect" and "pride". "We want the alliance to continue. But it should not be at the cost of self-respect. We want a resolution while keeping intact our pride," Mungantiwar said.

Leader of Opposition in Assembly Eknath Khadse sought to remind Sena that BJP had ceded additional seats to it in Lok Sabha polls. "Earlier BJP used to contest 32 and Sena 16 of the total 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra. We later gave six more seats to them with the aim of keeping the alliance intact," he said.

Mungantiwar listed occasions when Shiv Sena had taken positions that went against the official stand of the NDA but BJP did not object for the sake of the alliance. "In the past, we did not object when Sena backed Pratibha Patil for President's post and later Pranab Mukherjee.

Sena had also backed Sharad Pawar for prime minister's post. We maintained restraint to ensure that our old alliance with Sena does not break," Mungantiwar said.

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