Sena-BJP alliance on the brink in Maharashtra, Modi takes stock
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday stepped in after talks between BJP and Shiv Sena over sharing seats hit a stalemate weeks before state elections in October.
Modi took a note of the situation with his cabinet colleague Nitin Gadkari, who is a senior BJP leader in Maharashtra and will travel to Mumbai to meet state leadership.
The PM’s move comes after his close aide and BJP’s national president Amit Shah received an unexpected response from the Sena on Thursday. The Sena dismissed Shah’s suggestion for protecting BJP’s self-esteem in sharing seats and snubbed him by asking the ally to take 119 seats as per the old formula. BJP rejected the proposal promptly and indicated that the alliance may break if the Sena does not revise the old formula. The problem has compounded further as the two parties stopped talking formally after the Sena chief’s remarks on Modi.
Uncertainty prevailed as the Sena refused to budge and could be preparing to go solo. The BJP, too, is ready to fight separately, but it will wait for the Sena to declare the break up. The BJP–demanding an equal share of the state’s 288 assembly seats citing the Lok Sabha polls where it won 23 seats to the Sena’s 18–suspended talks with its ally last weekend after Thackeray questioned impact of Modi wave in the election. In 2009, the Sena had contested 169 seats and the BJP 119, winning 44 and 46, respectively.
Sources said the BJP had not taken any final decision on breaking the alliance. “We are still in favour of resolving it amicably. We will wait for the Sena to respond.”
The smaller allies, who formed a grand alliance with the Sena and BJP for the Lok Sabha polls, too are working for patch-up. BJP insiders said they were prepared to snap the ties if Sena remained adamant.
On Thursday, Shah indicated BJP was willing to join the Sena. “We (BJP) have taken two steps forward, the other people (the Sena) should also move a step forward and resolve the issue quickly to begin the movement for transformation of Maharashtra,” he said.
The two parties have been in alliance in Maharashtra for 25 years