After bickering for more than a week over sharing seats for the Maharashtra assembly elections, the Shiv Sena and BJP on Tuesday finally decided to keep their 25-year-old alliance going in the western state that goes to the polls on October 15.
The Sena, which remains firm on contesting 151 of the 288 seats with an eye on the chief minister’s post, showed willingness to give away one more seat to the BJP.
If both succeed in arm-twisting the smaller allies, the Sena would end up with at least 150 seats, the BJP with 124-126 seats, leaving 12-14 seats to the others.
At the time of going to press, leaders from the saffron combine were in talks to finalise the seat-sharing formula, with the smaller allies unhappy over what they would have to give up.
Video:BJP leaders to meet Shiv Sena to save Maharashtra alliance
While the ruling alliance — the Congress and the Nationalist Congress — again hit a roadblock over the number of seats each would fight, the saffron camp appeared confident as leaders met at the BJP’s office on Tuesday morning.
Sena leaders drove down in senior Maharashtra BJP leader Vinod Tawde’s car, sparking speculation of a deal being sealed. The Sena in an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana indicated alliance trouble had been sorted out.
The “horses of Sena-BJP were running fast and were unstoppable against the mules of Congress-NCP”, it said.
The Sena softened its stand after several senior BJP leaders spoke to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, party sources said. “Our alliance will stay. We will talk sharing of seats with our smaller allies and fix the final formula,” said Sena MP Sanjay Raut.
Thackeray had on Sunday made a “final offer” of 119 seats to the BJP and set aside 151 seats for the Sena.
The new formula, if agreed up on, will ensure that the Sena keeps to its “Mission 150” alive, while the BJP increases its seat count by five-seven seats.
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