Shiv Sena raises mandir, motor and Metro ahead of polls
Shiv Sena's push for Ram Mandir comes before the Assembly seat arrangement and CM's post are decided between the two allies
While the saffron alliance talks are stuck because of disagreement over a 50:50 sharing formula, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has asked the BJP-led Central government to begin building the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. He also appealed to his party workers to get ready to put the first brick for constructing the temple.
"We have been pestering the Centre for the construction (of the temple). Nobody can stop us from building the temple," he said at a leaders' meeting at his residence on Sunday night.
Seats for Sena
The appeal to the party workers and the demand for the temple is seen as Sena's posturing ahead of the Assembly elections that the two parties have decided to fight together but haven't reached a consensus on seat sharing. Insiders said the BJP is not willing to part with more than 126 of the 288 seats while the Sena wants at least 135 of them and has asked BJP to have 135. The remaining 18 could be given to smaller allies. The Sena also wants to share equal responsibility in the government. This means it would seek the CM's post or the deputy CM's post, half share in the council of ministers and lucrative departments under its representatives.
Congress and Nationalist Congress Party have fixed a share of 125 each. The remaining 38 seats would go to their smaller allies. The emerging third front of Bahujan Vanchit Aghadi has upset its ally AIMIM which has refused the alliance because it didn't get an adequate number of seats. However, the talks were open-ended. The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has decided to stay away from the elections.
Aarey, MVI Act hurdles
The Sena's opposition to constructing the Metro car depot in Aarey and refusal to accept the high penalty provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act have emerged as new flashpoints between the two allies.
Thackeray said that the Aarey movement was similar to the Nanar agitation which forced the BJP government to withdraw a chemical refinery. CM Devendra Fadnavis is hell-bent on going ahead with the car depot project and expressed his displeasure over Sena leader and transport minister Divakar Raote's 'unilateral' decision of staying enforcement of MVI Act in Maharashtra. He told a section of the media on Sunday that Raote hadn't consulted with him before writing to Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari seeking a reduction in penalty charges. Insiders said that the Sena would want Fadnavis to review both issues and make a statement before agreeing to a seat-sharing formula.
'Fight alone if needed'
Though the BJP and Sena have been saying that the seat-sharing would be announced soon, party workers have been suggested to remain ready to fight independently if the tie-up doesn't work. The BJP had severed a two-decade-old pact a couple of days before the nominations started in 2014. Both the parties have prepared its candidates in all seats in case of a break-up. Faces from other parties have been inducted too.
Thackeray's son Aaditya has been touring the state for the past one month seeking the support of voters. Currently, he is visiting the Konkan region where the CM's yatra is expected to reach in a couple of days from western Maharashtra.
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