BJP-Sena, Cong-NCP decide to part ways in Maharashtra
MUMBAI: The Maharashtra elections are heading for a
multi-cornered contest as the two traditional coalitions — the ShivSena and the
BJP and the Congress and the NCP — decided to part ways on Thursday after
failing to reach an agreement over seat-sharing. The NCP also said it would
withdraw support to the Congress in the Maharashtra government.
The MNS also announced that it will go it alone in the
October 15 elections, making it clear that it won’t be aligning with any of the
parties to open a new front.
The 25-year-old alliance between the Shiv Sena and
BJP, which evolved on the Hindutva ideology, broke over the seat-sharing
formula. The decision to break ties with Sena was taken at the BJP state core
committee meeting held in the evening under the leadership of state party president
BJP leader Eknath Khadse, who is the Leader of the
Opposition in the assembly, said after the meeting, “We have taken the decision
to break the alliance as efforts to resolve the seat-sharing issue made no
Fadnavis said, “It is with a lot of anguish and pain
that we took the decision as concerns of BJP and smaller alliance partners were
not being addressed by the Sena. The Shiv Sena displayed no flexibility and
stuck to its stated formula which revolved around one number — 151 seats.”
The Sena had made it clear that it would not take
anything less than 151 seats. The BJP was determined to see the Sena
accommodate the allies and increase its share. It had suggested that Sena
contest 144 seats, BJP 126 seats and allies 18 seats. However, Sena chief
Uddhav Thackeray rejected the BJP formula.
The BJP has managed to keep with itself support of all
the smaller alliance partners — Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, Rashtriya
Sanaja Party, Shiv Sangram and Republican Party of India. It is now planning to
accommodate all these four partners with generous seat sharing for the 288
seats across the state. The BJP hopes the support of smaller allies would
consolidate its vote base across western Maharashra and Marathwada.
The BJP’s decision came as a setback to the Sena,
which described it as “betraying the trust of the ally”. Senior Sena leader
Diwakar Raote said, “It was evident from the beginning that BJP wanted to
contest alone. And their decision to part ways with Sena was taken in the
interest of their own party. It amounts to letting down the alliance partner
which has stood with them for more than two decades.”
Thackeray exhorted his party workers to give a
befitting reply to the BJP. However, BJP leaders emphasised that they would not
consider the Sena as their rivals. Instead, their entire focus would be on
Congress and NCP in the elections.
Later in the evening, senior NCP leader Praful Patel
announced the end of ties with the Congress. “It was not possible to continue
the alliance with Congress,” he said. Patel said the Congress went ahead
declaring its own list of candidates without taking them into confidence.
Earlier, in the day, MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre said,
“Time for discussions is over. The Congress is well prepared for all 288
seats.” Both parties continued to put the blame on each other for betraying the
NCP had wanted 144 seats, which the Congress refused.
The Congress wanted to contest 164 seats, which was rejected by the NCP. Deputy
Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said, “I am going to the Governor and offering to
withdraw NCP support from the state government as we have now decided to fight
the elections alone.”