Till a week ago, the BJP seemed confident of the seat-sharing formula proposed by it to the Shiv Sena, where both parties would contest 135 seats and give 18 seats to smaller allies.
But Uddhav Thackeray’s hard-line stance has left the BJP baffled. First, the Sena chief offered them two seats less than what they contested in 2009, then on Sunday he sacrificed two more seats and asked the BJP to be satisfied with 119 seats.
The question is why is Thackeray playing hardball.
Read: Shiv Sena makes 'final offer' of 119 seats, BJP leaves decision to Modi
One of the reasons is the Sena brass being wary of the BJP’s ambitions. The saffron party has started talking about winning power on its own after it swept the Lok sabha polls in Maharashtra. Its leaders think the time is right for the party to expand across the state and end its dependence on Sena.
“We know what happened to Mahrashtrawadi Gomantak Party in Goa. It was a major alliance partner in Goa but now they are nowhere. We are sure they will try the same here once they get a bigger share in power,” said a senior Sena leader.
The BJP, on the other hand, seems concerned about erring in their handling with the Sena. First, its state leaders were under the impression that the Sena would give in to the pressure. Later, the BJP made a strategic mistake by ending their friendly relations with Raj Thackeray’s MNS.
Read: Congress-NCP talks on hold
So will this change political equations now?
Speculation is rife that Sena and NCP may come together on the ground of `Marathi pride’ as both parties have roots in Maharashtra.
Leaders from both the Congress and the NCP opine that Pawar, who has been waiting for the outcome of the saffron combine talks, may snap ties with the Cong in case of a BJP-Sena split.