In a clear indication of the strained ties over seat-sharing talks, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah on Thursday refrained from mentioning alliance partner Shiv Sena in his address, and instead asked workers to concentrate on the party’s victory in the state Assembly elections.
The BJP president, who took a tour to western Maharashtra on Thursday, had in the morning urged the Sena to give in to their demand, suggesting that his party has taken two steps ahead and now it was the Sena’s turn to act. But by afternoon, there was a conspicuous change in the BJP president’s tone.
While addressing workers in Chaundi and Pune, Shah repeatedly asked them to take a pledge to bring the BJP to power, without mentioning the 25-year-old saffron alliance. “I know the pulse of the people and can firmly say the BJP’s coming to power in Maharashtra is certain. The BJP will help regain the state’s pride.”
“The BJP wants an alliance, but not at the cost of its self-esteem,” said Shah, in Kolhapur, adding, “When I asked Devendra Fadnavis and Vinod Tawde about it [seat-sharing tiff], they told me they are making every effort, but there has been no response.”
Echoing the party president’s stand, BJP leader Vinod Tawde said, “We will give an answer once the Sena responds to the proposal.”
Both the BJP and Sena had, in the past, suggested that they could go it alone if their demands are not met. The BJP, after the resounding victory in the Lok Sabha, has upped the pressure on Shiv Sena and demanded equal number of seats. The party also wants the Sena to swap some seats, which they have never won. The Shiv Sena, on the other hand, has refused to give in. In the past, the Sena had contested 171 seats, while the BJP had fought 119 seats.
Meanwhile, the smaller allies -- Swabhimani Shetakari Sanghatana and Republican Party of India – want the issue to be resolved at the earliest. “If the Sena-BJP fail to resolve the issue till September 21, we are free to decide our course,” said Swabhimani Shetakari Sanghatana chief Raju Shetti.