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Alliance on death bed; Sena refuses BJP’s fresh offer of 130 seats

MUMBAI: As BJP on Monday sent a “very liberal proposal” to Shiv Sena seeking to contest 130 of Maharashtra’s 288 Assembly seats, its saffron ally appeared in no mood to oblige, raising further the possibility of disintegration of the 25-year-old alliance.

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

A day after Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray talked tough and made a “final offer’ under which his party would fight 151 seats, BJP 119 and allies the rest 18, BJP made a counter offer seeking 130, a climb-down from earlier 135, but said it would contest all 288 seats if “compelled” to part ways from its oldest ally in the NDA.

Though no Shiv Sena leader was prepared to go on record about the party’s response to BJP’s proposal, a party MP, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “the proposal is old. Uddhav Thackeray has made it clear that his offer is final.”

BJP General Secretary in charge of Maharashtra Rajiv Pratap Rudy said in Delhi that his party has sent “a very liberal proposal” to Sena as the 130 seats include the “worst” possible seats which its ally had never won in last 30 years.

“The fact is that the proposal which has been given and conversation which has taken place with BJP President (Amit Shah)…. a very liberal proposal has been sent to Shiv Sena.

“The other seats which we are demanding are those which Sena has never won in last 30 years. We have said… give us the worst possible seats but give us the numbers,” he said.

“In a contingent situation that the BJP is compelled not to contest with Shiv Sena, we would go it alone on all 288 seats but we will prefer that Shiv Sena comes along,” Rudy told reporters.

Party sources said they have prepared a list of candidates for a majority of seats barring “20-30″ where they were still looking for appropriate names or expecting leaders from other parties to join them.

“We are not in favour of breaking the alliance. But we are also not in a mood of tolerating their (Sena) uncompromising attitude. There can be flexibility but we are getting to hear their proposals only on news channels,” a BJP leader said.