Maharashtra polls: Uddhav Thackeray rejects BJP demand for 135 seats, ties under strain

Mumbai: Talking tough, Shiv Sena today rejected BJP's proposal for contesting 135 seats in the October 15 Maharashtra assembly elections, suggesting there existed the "alternative" of going it alone if seat-sharing talks failed.

"They (BJP) offered a proposal under which they wanted to contest 135 seats and I have rejected it," Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray told reporters here.

Uddhav rejects BJP demand for 135 seats, ties under strain
Uddhav Thackeray

Reflecting the unease in the alliance, which after a spectacular showing in Lok Sabha elections, was hoping to wrest Maharashtra from the Congress-NCP combine after a 15-year rule, Uddhav appeared to suggest that Shiv Sena could go to the hustings alone if negotiations failed. "Everything has an alternative".

I have conveyed it to BJP that I can't go beyond a point (over the number of seats to contest)," he said when asked if his party had kept open the option of the party fighting election on its own if a mutually acceptable seat-sharing formula proved elusive.

Senior BJP leader and spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy had yesterday said his party had proposed that after allotting seats to smaller allies like RPI(A) and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana of Raju Shetty, the two major constituents of 'Mahayuti' (grand alliance) should contest an equal number of 135 seats.

He also trashed state BJP spokesman Madhav Bhandari's yesterday's claim that talks between the two oldest allies in the Centre's ruling NDA had been stalled after Uddhav "demeaned" Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an event here last Saturday .

"I have nothing to say on BJP spokesman Madhav Bhandari's comment that the talks have been stalled and BJP is contemplating going alone. It is surprising that those who are not involved in the talks are saying discussions are not happening," he said.Shiv Sena and BJP had contested 169 and 119 seats in the 2009 assembly election, winning 44 and 46 seats respectively.The ties between the two parties, Uddhav said, were over 25-years-old and "going has been good for Shiv Sena and BJP together.

We should pull down this Congress-NCP government and save the people of Maharashtra." "We want all Hindutva forces to come together. If BJP says the party with more MLAs will get chief ministership, it should not forget that it was also decided that Sena will contest 171 and BJP 117 seats in the assembly.

How can one remember only one part of the arrangement made by Balasaheb (Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray)," he said. He said differences over the number of seats each alliance partner would contest was normal ahead of elections but the two parties have stuck together every time. "I hope this time too we are on the same side," he said, adding the talks are expected to conclude in 2-3 days.

"BJP had its mission 272 for Lok Sabha poll, we have our mission 150 for the assembly election. Nobody should have any objection to it," he said.Uddhav said he was in touch with state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis and O P Mathur, incharge of party's affairs in Maharashtra over seat-sharing.

The two saffron allies are locked in a wordy duel since Uddhav's remark on Saturday at an interaction organised by a TV news channel where he said Shiv Sena's contribution to the impressive showing by the alliance in Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra cannot be overlooked. "Did the Modi wave show in Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Orissa and West Bengal? It depends on alliance partners as well.

Modi is Prime Minister of our alliance," he had said. Uddhav went on to say that in the event of the NDA allies gaining a majority after the assembly poll, the chief minister will be "from Shiv Sena only".

The comments made by him (Uddhav) were to demean Narendra Modi. Maharashtra BJP has strongly criticised and condemned the comments made by him. Our workers are insisting and pressurising the leadership to stop the talks," Madhav Bhandari had said yesterday. The Sena chief today denied having said anything against Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the event. "I did not say Shiv Sena did not benefit from Modi. I did not make fun of anybody," he said.

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