BJP Rejects Shiv Sena’s Offer for Maharashtra Assembly Elections

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MUMBAI: The BJP has rejected the final offer made by partner Shiv Sena on seat sharing for the Maharashtra elections now only 24 days away. Sources had said that Sena wants to contest 155 of the 288 seats in the assembly and suggested that the BJP contest 125, ten less than it has reportedly demanded.

“I met Uddhav Thackeray and told him that we have received the proposal. I informed that we cannot accept the proposal as after discussing it we have informed Shiv Sena that if we accept it we would be contesting lesser seats than the last election,” Maharashtra BJP president Devendra Fadnavis said.

Such a formula would have left only eight seats for their smaller partners in what is called the “Mahayuti” alliance and not the 16 to 18 that was originally planned.

The latest rejection puts further strain on the alliance. All of last week was spent in an exchange of tough words and brinksmanship, with leaders admitting that the 25-year-old alliance was in deep crisis.

After a freeze in talks over Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray sarcastically questioning whether the “Modi wave” endures, Udhav’s son Aditya was dispatched on Friday to restart negotiations. Leaders of the two parties also met on Saturday.

In the last assembly election, the Shiv Sena contested 169 seats, while the BJP 119. But this time, the BJP is arguing that after its superior performance in the Lok Sabha elections four months ago it cannot be counted as the junior partner in the state anymore and wants both partners to contest 135 seats each, and leave the rest for smaller allies. The Shiv Sena is adamant that it will contest 155. At stake is the post of chief minister, which will go to the party with most legislators if the coalition wins.

“Mission 150, which Aditya Thackeray had mentioned yesterday, is still on, but officially Uddhavji will speak tomorrow on this matter,” Sena lawmaker Sanjay Raut said on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, top leaders of the Maharashtra BJP met with central party leaders like OP Mathur and Rajiv Pratap Rudy to discuss a way out of the current deadlock. Mr Mathur later said, “There is no new proposal from the Sena. The alliance partner can come talk to us. We will go to Delhi with our list (of candidates) tomorrow”.

Stung by the BJP’s claim, the Sena revealed that it had made its offer in the wee hours of Saturday. Talks continued between the two parties through the night, sources said.

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