The BJP’s poor show in the by-polls in other states has come at an ideal time for its ally Shiv Sena, which while rejecting the former’s demand for extra seats in the October 15 Maharashtra assembly polls, has also stressed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi can’t alone get the saffron alliance a win.
The Sena now plans to stick to its guns when the seat-sharing talks resume.
While Sena leaders said the by-poll results have reduced the BJP’s bargaining power, leaders from the BJP said they do not foresee any such thing and expect their national president Amit Shah and Union minister Nitin Gadkari to strike a favourable deal with the Sena.
Shah, who will be in Maharashtra for three days, could meet Uddhav to end the hostility.
“The by-poll results have put us in a better bargaining position. It shows the BJP will need our help, and we are the big brother in the alliance. Another thing that has been proved is what Uddhavji said in a television program – the absence of Modi wave,” said a senior Sena leader, who did not wish to be named.
Thackeray, who held meeting with senior party leaders on Tuesday, refrained from making any comments on the by-poll results. Senior Sena leaders Diwakar Raote and Ramdas Kadam, however, taunted the BJP.
“National elections are 80% personality and 20% party driven. In local elections, local issues matter and that is what everyone needs to realise,” said Raote.
Meanwhile, the state BJP’s core committee met at Gadkari’s Delhi residence to discuss a plan to counter the Sena.
“Maharashtra should be treated differently when we share seats. The [by-poll] results elsewhere will in no way have an impact on our stand,” said state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis. “We have asked the Sena for seats which they have been losing all along.”
Thackeray has called for a meeting of his vibhag pramukhs (office bearer of different areas) on Wednesday morning, when he could discuss the alliance trouble.
Seat-sharing between the two parties hit a roadblock after BJP started demanding an equal share of the 288 assembly seats, citing the Lok Sabha poll results where it won 23 seats to the Sena’s 18. In the 2009 state polls, the Sena contested 169 seats and the BJP 119, winning 44 and 46 respectively.
Thackeray, sources said, has conveyed to Fadnavis that the Sena will not agree to anything less than 155 seats. With the party with most legislators likely to have a better chance of getting the CM’s post, Thackeray has also declared that he will not shy away from the responsibility.