The tiff between the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the Belgaum issue has erupted just in time for pre-poll talks between the allies.
The allies were to meet this week and decide on the seat-sharing formula for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. The dispute over the Marathi-speaking population in areas bordering Maharashtra and Karnataka could be used as a bargaining tool, feel some BJP insiders.
“Some of us in the party feel that this issue is more of a pressure tactic to be able to get some important seats from us for the Lok Sabha polls,” said a senior BJP leader who did not wish to be identified as nobody in the party wants to say this openly. “Our views on Belgaum are the same so there is no reason to break the alliance.”
The Belgaum issue also serves another purpose for the Sena: It goes well with the party’s Marathi manoos poll plank. HT had reported in May 2008, after the BJP won power in Karnataka that the Belgaum issue will be a tricky one for the party to handle with the Sena as an ally.
Top BJP leaders from Maharashtra will meet late on Sunday night to discuss the recent political developments.