11:42 pm - Saturday September 26, 2020

Maharashtra polls: Uddhav rejects BJP’s demand for 135 seats; ties in trouble

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MUMBAI: Further hardening his stand on seat-sharing with the BJP, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Monday said he has rejected the saffron ally’s demand for contesting 135 seats in Maharashtra Assembly polls and hinted at going it alone, saying “everything has an alternative”.He, however, clarified that talks are still on to clinch a seat-sharing formula.

“They (BJP) offered a proposal under which they wanted to contest 135 seats and I have rejected it,” Uddhav, who had on Saturday asserted the next Chief Minister would be from “Shiv Sena only” if the saffron alliance came to power, told reporters.

Reflecting the growing tensions between the two oldest allies in the Centre’s ruling NDA, he said, “Everything has an alternative. I have conveyed it to the BJP that I can’t go beyond a point (over the number of seats to contest).”

He was asked whether the Shiv Sena had kept open the option of going to the hustings alone.

Senior BJP leader and spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy had yesterday said his party had proposed that after allotting seats to smaller allies like the RPI(A) and the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana of Raju Shetty, the two major constituents of ‘Mahayuti’ (grand alliance) should contest an equal number of 135 seats.

The Shiv Sena and the BJP had contested 169 and 119 seats, respectively, in the 2009 Assembly elections.

Uddhav also said since “talks are still on and till the decision on alliance is reached, I will not say anything negative”.

“I have nothing to say on BJP spokesman Madhav Bhandari’s comment that the talks have been stalled and the BJP is contemplating going alone. It is surprising that those who are not involved in the talks are saying discussions are not happening,” he said.

The ties between the two parties, Uddhav said, were 25 years old and the “going has been good for the Shiv Sena and BJP together. We should pull down this Congress-NCP government and save the people of Maharashtra”.

“We want all Hindutva forces to come together. If the BJP says the party with more MLAs will get chief ministership, it should not forget that it was also decided that the Sena will contest 171 and the BJP 117 seats in the Assembly. How can one remember only one part of the arrangement made by Balasaheb (Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray),” he said.

He said differences over the number of seats each alliance partner would contest were normal ahead of polls but the two parties have stuck together every time. “I hope this time too we are on the same side,” he said, adding that the talks are expected to conclude in 2-3 days.

“The BJP had its ‘Mission 272’ for the Lok Sabha polls, we have our ‘Mission 150’ for the Assembly elections. Nobody should have any objection to it,” he said.

Uddhav said he was in touch with state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis and OP Mathur, in charge of party’s affairs in Maharashtra, over seat-sharing.

The Sena chief also denied having said anything against Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an event organised by a TV news channel on Saturday.

“I did not say the Shiv Sena did not benefit from Modi. I did not make fun of anybody,” he said.

Uddhav had on Saturday said Shiv Sena’s contribution to NDA’s victory in the Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra cannot be ignored.

“Did the Modi wave show in Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Orissa and West Bengal? It depends on alliance partners as well. Modi is Prime Minister of our alliance,” he had said.

“The comments made by him (Uddhav) were to demean Narendra Modi. The Maharashtra BJP has strongly criticised and condemned the comments made by him. Our workers are insisting and pressurising the leadership to stop the talks,” BJP’s state unit spokesperson Madhav Bhandari had said on Sunday.

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