PM Modi, Amit Shah refused to intervene in BJP-Sena spat

As the BJP hardened its stand on seat sharing, the Shiv Sena sent Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray and senior party leader Subhas Desai to meet BJP’s in-charge for the assembly polls, Om Prakash Mathur

With the BJP hardening its stand and refusing to budge on the long-drawn tiff with the Shiv Sena regarding the seat-sharing formula for the upcoming state assembly polls, the latter, on Friday, blinked and decided to send two emissaries to break the impasse.

Aaditya Thackeray Subhash Desai
Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray and senior Sena leader Subhash Desai met BJP’s state in-charge for the assembly polls, Om Prakash Mathur. File pics

Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray and senior party leader Subhash Desai met senior BJP leader and state in-charge for assembly polls, Om Prakash Mathur, in the evening. Later, speaking to the media, Desai announced that the alliance between BJP and Shiv Sena would continue and a meeting to discuss seat- sharing would happen late in the night.

On his part, Mathur made it clear that a proposal on seat-sharing with BJP’s demands was handed over to Sena leaders and that they (BJP) were waiting for the decision. BJP’s state unit chief Devendra Fadnavis said the ball was in Sena’s court and the alliance partner was expected to take a decision “keeping in mind our 25-year-long alliance with them”.

'Won't interfere'
Highly placed sources from the saffron alliance said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah refused to intervene in the feud. Their message to the Sena was: our top five leaders – Om Prakash Mathur, Rajeev Pratap Rudy, Devendra Fadnavis, leader of opposition Eknath Khadse and MLA Sudhir Mungantiwar, are there to work on it. This, sources claimed, forced the Sena leadership to think afresh on the fate of the alliance.

Sources said the view taken by PM Modi and Shah came as a shocker for Shiv Sena. The duo from Gujarat stuck to their stand that Mathur was authorised to take whatever decision he felt was in the interest of the BJP. No serious efforts were made to convince or coax Shiv Sena to maintain the ties.

On the other hand, during its almost five-hour long meeting, senior BJP leaders discussed various possibilities if Shiv Sena indeed broke ties. A few leaders opined that, except for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Sena’s departure wouldn’t dent BJP’s chances; in fact, they suggested they could compensate for the loss by winning maximum number of seats in Vidarbha and north Maharashtra.

BJP has certain strongholds in Marathwada and western Maharashtra where the Sena’s assistance is not required. And, if need be, BJP feels they can always approach the Sena’s bitter rival, the MNS. According to BJP leaders, the party was prepared to snap ties with Sena, as its demands were unjust.

Senior MLA and core committee member, Sudhir Mungantiwar, said the BJP had never thought of snapping ties when the Sena spoke of making Sharad Pawar the PM; when it decided to vote for Congress candidates Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee in the presidential elections.

Khadse said that despite a well-devised formula, the BJP had given in to the Sena’s demand for six Lok Sabha seats since 1989, and even accommodated RPI leader Ramdas Athawale to the Rajya Sabha, though he should have been a Shiv Sena nominee.

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