The deadlock over seat-sharing between the BJP and the Shiv Sena continued Monday but the alliance partners appeared willing to accommodate each other’s concerns, keeping hopes of reconciliation alive.
The BJP sent a fresh proposal to the Shiv Sena, offering to contest 130 seats -- five down from its initial demand of 135 --- in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly but also hinted it was ready to go it alone.
A day after it made the senior ally the “final offer” of 119 seats, the Sena -– through informal channels -- indicated it was willing to concede another six seats to the BJP, sources said. The Sena had Sunday set aside 151 seats for itself.
For weeks, the saffron combine has been fighting bitterly over the number of seats each party will contest in the October 15 state election.
The alliance fancies its chances this time and whichever party gets more seats, will also get the CM’s post.
“In a contingent situation that the BJP is compelled not to contest with the Shiv Sena, we would go it alone on all 288 seats but we will prefer that Shiv Sena comes along,” BJP general secretary in-charge for Maharashtra Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.
Video:BJP leaders to meet Shiv Sena to save Maharashtra alliance
The BJP, said sources, was yet to receive a formal response from Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on its fresh demand for 130 seats.
“We have shown some flexibility... Sena should give us those seats where chances of its victory are nil.” There are some 59 seats that the Sena has not won in last five elections.
Late Sunday, the party’s central election committee had finalised candidates for more than 200 seats, sources said. In case of a split, the BJP would “accommodate” the three smaller parties that are part of the Mahayuti, or the grand alliance, the sources said.Rudy has been asked go to Mumbai and settle things in the next two-three days. September 27 is the last day of filing election papers. The party’s election in-charge Om Mathur is already in Mumbai.
Thackeray had called up two senior BJP leaders on Sunday, but failed to secure any concession, a BJP leader told HT. The party, said sources, would wait for the "inauspicious" Pitrapaksha to end -- on September 24 --before announcing candidates.
BJP rejects Sena's 'final' offer
The BJP leaders say they want the alliance to work but a break-up with Sena wouldn’t put the party at a disadvantage.
“We will get an opportunity to make inroads in urban areas where Modi magic will give us an advantage,” a BJP leader said on condition of anonymity.
Rudy earlier said that his party had sent “a very liberal proposal” to Sena as the 130 seats include the “worst” possible seats which its ally had never won in last 30 years. Traditionally, the Shiv Sena has fought more seats than the BJP, which wants a bigger share this time following its Lok Sabha victory.