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Politics
BJP-Sena, Cong-NCP decide to part ways in Maharashtra
26-09-2014

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 Devendra Fadnavis.

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 headway.”

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 coalition trust.

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.”