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Assembly polls
BJP climbs down on M’rashtra seats
Amit Shah tells Sena chief Uddhav: Willing to contest 130 seats
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 22
The BJP today showed signs of softening on sharing seats with the Shiv Sena for the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly elections, saying it was willing to contest 130 seats, instead of 135.

BJP president Amit Shah made the offer to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as he sought to break the deadlock with the 25-year-old alliance partner. Thackeray yesterday made it clear that he could only spare 119 seats for the BJP, keeping 151 seats for his party and leaving 18 for smaller allies.

BJP’s in charge of Maharashtra Rajiv Pratap Rudy said his party was keen on keeping the alliance. He said Shah made a “very liberal” offer to Thackeray of 130 seats for the BJP, including the ones that Sena has never won. “We are keen that the alliance stays. We will not pull the plug. I am sure they (Sena) also understand how important the alliance is to the people of Maharashtra. We hope a solution will be found,” Rudy said.

While the Maharashtra unit of the party wants a breakup, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party ideologue, the RSS, are believed to be in favour of keeping the alliance. Sources say there is a chance that the alliance may survive, which is one reason why the BJP today postponed the announcement of its first list of candidates despite having a detailed discussion on it yesterday. While the BJP has officially declared 130 to be its outer limit, sources say it can concede a couple of seats. “More than the number of seats, Thackeray wants a firm commitment on the issue of chief ministership,” a source said.

But the BJP’s Maharashtra unit is in favour of dumping Sena and contesting alone if the partner does not concede to its demand of 130 seats.

At yesterday’s meeting, senior BJP leaders discussed preparations for the elections and also how they would fare if they go it alone. Sources say the Central Election Committee has drawn up a list of 250 BJP candidates for the 288-member Assembly, leaving 38 seats for smaller allies and rebels from the Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena and MNS.

The Prime Minister is believed to have told the Maharashtra unit that he would support their decision either way, but he wants them to make a final effort to try and save the alliance. It is possible that a breakthrough is achieved by tomorrow, they say. Even though the RSS is not interfering directly in the ongoing tussle, it wants the BJP to stay on with the alliance for the sake of common ideology and old ties.

The BJP also vehemently denied the possibility of tying up with the NCP, which is embroiled in a separate tussle on seat sharing with its ally, the Congress.

“We would prefer that the Shiv Sena comes with us to fight the most corrupt Congress-NCP government of Maharashtra,” Rudy said.

Meanwhile, Sena sources say they are unwilling to concede more seats to the BJP because they do not want a scenario wherein the BJP wins more seats and gets into a commanding position to rope in Raj Thackeray’s MNS. Political observers say these elections are crucial for Uddhav as he looks to secure his political future and space, which his cousin Raj is trying to wrest.

Saving 25-yr alliance with Sena

* BJP president Amit Shah talked to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Monday in a bid to save the 25-year-old alliance

* BJP’s Maharashtra in charge Rajiv Pratap Rudy said Shah made a ‘very liberal’ offer of 130 seats for the BJP, including those that Sena has never won

* While the BJP has officially sought 130 seats, it can concede a couple of seats, say party sources

We are keen that the alliance stays. We will not pull the plug. I am sure they (Sena) also understand how important the alliance is to the people of Maharashtra. We hope a solution will be found — Rajiv Pratap Rudy, BJP’s M’rashtra in charge.





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