6:05 am - Wednesday November 4, 2015

Shiv Sena Warns BJP on Seat-Sharing, Says ‘We Are Not Asking, We Are Giving’

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Don't worry about Maharashtra: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray draws line for N. Modi
Don't worry about Maharashtra: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray draws line for N. Modi

MUMBAI: In the game of brinksmanship that the partners of 25 years are playing over seat-sharing for the Maharashtra elections, the Shiv Sena this morning sought to explain how it views its relationship with the BJP.
“In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena is a party that gives, not a party that takes. We are not asking, we are giving. They should think about what they are asking,” said party lawmaker Sanjay Raut, making clear that Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray would take a decision on seat-sharing, and that he would not be pushed into doing so.

The tough words were in response to the BJP setting a 12-hour deadline for the Sena to get back on its offer that it would contest at least 130 seats in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly. The BJP says it will wait till this evening for the Sena to revert before deciding to contest next month’s elections on its own.

Mr Raut, who had dismissed the deadline last evening, said today, “Power and politics will continue, but for the Shiv Sena, the biggest thing is Maharashtra’s self-respect, the Shiv Sena’s pride… we will not compromise on this.”

On Thursday, BJP chief Amit Shah seemed to offer both an olive branch and a warning. “The BJP has taken two steps ahead, the other people should also move two steps forward and resolve the alliance issue… There cannot be resolution at the cost of self-respect,” he had said.

Sources in the Maharashtra BJP said today that the party will not make any more efforts to reach out. Narendra Modi posters have sprung up all over Mumbai as the party preps to go back to what it believes is its safest bet – a campaign built around the Prime Minister and his development agenda.

Mr Modi is said to believe that the party can contest next month’s elections on its own.

The BJP had earlier argued that its superior performance in the national elections four months ago earned it the right to an equal number of seats to contest. It had suggested a formula that the two partners contest 135 seats each and leave 18 for their smaller allies.

The climbdown to 130 happened after the BJP suffered a setback this week in by-elections. The Sena has maintained that it must continue to be the senior partner in the state and contest at least 150 seats and give the state its next chief minister.

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