Will BJP-Sena, Cong-NCP alliance survive?

RSTV Bureau

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BJP and its oldest ally Shiv Sena are likely to part ways ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly elections.

A formal announcement in the split of the 25-year-old alliance between the two parties is likely to be announced shortly, top BJP sources said. This follows failure of talks between the two parties after Shiv Sena refused to accept BJP’s demand for contesting seats more than last Assembly elections.

Similarly, amid continuing stalemate over seat sharing between Cong- NCP, the Congress announcing its first list of candidates for Maharashtra Assembly polls, the NCP leadership has gone into a huddle to decide its future course of action.

The development also comes just two days ahead of the last date for filing of nominations in the elections to the 288-member Assembly.

The 25-year-old saffron alliance in Maharashtra on Thursday looked hurtling towards a break up with BJP leaders walking out of a meeting with their Shiv Sena interlocutors called to discuss seat-sharing for Maharashtra Assembly polls and the latter charging BJP with being “in a hurry to end the relationship”.

The last-ditch efforts to salvage the alliance appeared set to come a cropper after state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis and Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council Vinod Tawde left the meeting midway, terming Sena’s proposals as “unaccomodative” of the allies.

One of the proposals, according to reports, was that Shiv Sena and BJP will contest 151 and 127 seats respectively leaving 10 of the state’s 288 Assembly seats for smaller allies. Additionally, it was said that three candidates of smaller partners of 6-party ‘Mahayuti’ will contest on Sena tickets and, similarly, BJP would accommodate one nominee in its quota of seats.

BJP and Shiv Sena leaders, however, claimed that talks are still on and the alliance is not over yet.

When contacted, BJP general secretary in-charge of party affairs in Maharashtra Rajiv Pratap Rudy denied that the alliance was over.

As the nomination filing date is approaching like BJP-Sena, Congress and NCP are still confused over seat sharing.

All senior NCP leaders, including party chief Sharad Pawar, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, state party chief Sunil Tatkare, senior leaders Chhagan Bhujbal and Praful Patel today met at Ajit Pawar’s official residence – Deogiri – to decide the next move.

The party is expected to announce its list of candidates and also take a call on the future of tie-up with Congress, a NCP leader said.

“Talks are not possible with NCP with conditions like equal seats and CM’s post,” the leader said adding that the body language of the NCP seems to be that it wants to go solo.

“There is little time now for talks. We have to start campaigning,” the leader pointed out.

“If the alliance does not materialise, we are ready to contest all the 288 seats. But Congress is in favour of continuing the alliance,” he had earlier said.

There have been no talks between the leaders of the two parties since their meeting on Wednesday morning where Congress offered 124 seats to NCP, 10 more than it had contested in the last Assembly elections.

State Congress president Manikrao Thakre has said that his party should not be blamed if the 15-year-old alliance breaks.