MUMBAI: The BJP has called off its 25-year-old alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, sources said today.
“Talks are on. Wait for further developments,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said when the two parties seemed to be making a last-ditch attempt at reconciliation.
But another national leader had earlier said, “As far as we are concerned, the alliance is over.”
The strong words spurred a Sena move; its leaders said talks were not over.
“We are calm. We are waiting for an announcement if any. As of now, talks are still on,” said a top Sena source.
In a sign of a possible break-up, BJP president Amit Shah cancelled his trip to Mumbai today for the second straight day. He was expected to try and resolve the fight over seat-sharing for the October 15 polls to the 288-seat Maharashtra assembly.
Earlier this week, the two parties had appeared to agree on a formula that would allow the BJP to contest the 130 seats it wants, leaving 151 for the Sena. But smaller parties insisted on a greater share. The Sena made it clear that would not come from its own share and the BJP has to compromise.
For the Sena, contesting and winning more seats is crucial; this could be its chief Uddhav Thackeray’s best shot at becoming Chief Minister. The party with more seats gets the top post.
A split is certain to trigger massive realignment ahead of the Maharashtra polls.
The rival Congress-led alliance is also on the verge of splitting, with strong indications that Sharad Pawar’s NCP or Nationalist Congress Party is in touch with the BJP. Last night, the Congress went ahead and released a list of 180 candidates.
The spectacular performance of the BJP-Sena alliance in the May national election proved to be a turning point in their ties. The BJP credited the win to a wave in favour of Narendra Modi, making it clear that it was no longer ready to play second fiddle to the Sena in Maharashtra.
As the party upped its stakes, demanding a higher share of seats than it has ever contested in Maharashtra, the Sena held steadfast to its belief that these are two different elections and can’t be compared.