11:51 pm - Monday August 19, 2019

Shiv Sena offers BJP 130 seats, but at cost of smaller parties

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Senior Shiv Sena leaders have held talks with BJP aiming to end the deadlock on seat sharing that is threatening to disintegrate their 25-year-old alliance ahead of the October 15 Maharashtra Assembly elections.

Sena group leader in Assembly Subhash Desai, party spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut arrived at the BJP office — Vasant Smriti Bhavan– in Dadar in central Mumbai around noon and met top BJP leaders on the alliance issue.

BJP’s Maharashtra poll in-charge Om Mathur and state party president Devendra Fadnavis were among those present at the meeting.

Fadnavis has convened a meeting of state BJP unit functionaries, district unit presidents, legislators and MPs here today to discuss the political situation ahead of the Assembly polls.

Leader of Opposition in Assembly Eknath Khadse and Leader of Opposition in Council Vinod Tawde are also participating in the meeting.Amid standoff on seat sharing talks, National Congress Party (NCP) chief has called for an emergency meeting at his residence to discuss the ongoing issue. On Monday, party’s Core Committee chaired by Sharad Pawar met and agreed that the alliance with Congress should continue. But it also had insisted on getting a larger share of Maharashtra’s 288 Assembly seats than 124 offered by Congress.Spooked perhaps by reports that the BJP was sending out some feelers towards Sharad Pawar’s NCP which is having its own problems with the Congress party, Shiv Sena leaders have reportedly climbed down from its ‘final offer’ of 119 seats and agreed to the BJP demand of 130 seats.

The development was reported on the Times Nowchannel which said that the Shiv Sena had blinked first. Indications to this effect had first come when senior Shiv Sena leaders were quoted by the channel as saying that they hoped the Maharashtra alliance would be saved.

This also came amid signs that the BJP was readying to go it alone in the Maharashtra elections.

However the Times Now channel quoted sources as saying that the BJP was unhappy with the Sena ‘compromise’ because to give the BJP its desired 130 seats, it has severely reduced the number of seats given to smaller parties in the alliance.

Earlier a top Maharashtra BJP leader and the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Eknath Khadse even went to the extent of saying the alliance was on the “death bed”.

The deadlock had left smaller allies of ‘Mahayuti’, the mega-alliance led by Sena and BJP, restive with one of them threatening to walk out and contest the polls alone.

Meanwhile on the other hand, it looks like the Congress and NCP are not really that close to patching things up. The Congress had reportedly told the NCP to ‘take it or leave it’ even as talks between the two sides reportedly ended inconclusively.

Senior Congress leader Narayan Rane told reporters that the two sides have decided to meet again at 8.30 pm as “no solution could be arrived at.” The meeting was held at Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s official residence – Varsha.

Congress has been refusing to yield to NCP’s demand for equal seats, while the latter has rejected offer of 124 of the state’s 288 Assembly seats.

NCP leader Praful Patel and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, state party chief Sunil Tatkare and other leaders attended the meeting, to resolve the seat-sharing deadlock and salvage the 15-year-old alliance.

State Congress chief Manikrao Thakre, who was present at the meeting, also said the “talks were inconclusive.”
The NCP’s core committee chaired by party chief Sharad Pawar had gone into a huddle here yesterday where it reaffirmed that the alliance should continue but insisted on getting a larger share of the state’s 288 Assembly seats than 124 offered by Congress.

NCP had contested 114 and Congress 174 in 2009 Assembly elections and has been insisting on fielding candidates in half of the 288 seats, citing it had double the number of Lok Sabha seats in the state than Congress. In the worst-ever performance for the ruling alliance, NCP had won 4 Lok Sabha seats against Congress’ 2.

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