3:10 am - Sunday September 23, 2018

BJP, Shiv Sena deny alliance is over

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Mumbai: Amid reports that the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in Maharashtra has collapsed, both parties claimed on Thursday that the talks were still on.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said talks were still on between the two parties over seat-sharing for the Maharashtra Assembly Elections on October 15.

Shiv Sena sources also said the alliance was very much intact, adding they were still holding parleys.

A leading English news channel had earlier this morning quoted BJP sources as saying that they have given up on the 25-year-old alliance after failing to resolve the seat-sharing deadlock with the Shiv Sena.

The development came shortly after BJP president Amit Shah cancelled his planned visit to Mumbai for the second time in two days.

Shah was due to travel to Mumbai yesterday to hold talks with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray amid deadlock in talks over seat-sharing for the state elections.

While the visit was postponed yesterday, it was cancelled altogether this morning.

It had appeared last night that the ‘Mahayuti’ alliance of Shiv Sena, BJP and four smaller parties may survive after the smaller allies, who were unhappy with Shiv Sena’s latest offer to BJP which left just seven seats for them, agreed to scale down their demand from 18 to 14 seats.

While BJP was open to giving some seats to the smaller allies from its quota, it was not ready to meet the full deficit of seven seats.

The Shiv Sena, on the other hand, refused to give up any more seats to save the alliance after settling for 151.

The two main allies had been engaged in a battle over the past several weeks to wrest the maximum seats in the alliance.

The two main allies had, after several rounds of talks, agreed to the formula of 151 seats for the Shiv Sena and 130 for the BJP. The remaining seven, out of the total 288 seats, were left for the smaller parties.

These smaller parties include Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathan, Rashtriya Samaj Paksha, Republican Party of India (Athavale) and Shiv Sangram.

When the two bigger allies announced the formula, their smaller allies had threatened to walk out of the alliance.

However, a report had quoted Mahadev Jankar of the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha as saying last night that the smaller allies would be happy to fight on 14 seats instead of the earlier demand of 18.

Meanwhile, both the parties have already started efforts to win over smaller alliance partners in case the alliance is formally declared over.

“Whatever happens, the allies will be with Sena,” the party’s mouthpiece, ‘Saamana’, claimed today.

A senior BJP leader, on the other hand, said the smaller parties know that their interests would be served only by aligning with BJP.

“Be it a Union Cabinet berth, a Rajya Sabha seat or any position in the government, they know that only BJP has the power to do it,” said the BJP leader, who did not want to be named.

A top state BJP leader, meanwhile, claimed, “The Sena leaders tried to incite smaller constituents of the Mahayuti against us.”

RPI leader Ramdas Athawale meanwhile asked BJP and Shiv Sena to not to break their alliance.

“If they do we shall decide our course of action,” he added.

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