The talks for a tie-up between the saffron allies for the upcoming Mumbai civic polls remained suspended on Sunday as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remains irked with the Shiv Sena’s offer of just 60 seats after the former asked for 114 seats, half of the total seats in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Neither of the parties took talks further, but both seemed reluctant to call it a day, at least publicly. At the same time, the allies continued to trade jibes and complaints against the other, indicating that a tie-up was difficult.
However, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray did indicate the party may go solo in the polls. “Now fight in such a way that we won’t need to go to anyone. We will install our mayor on our own strength,” Thackeray said. Party leaders published the statement on the Sena chief’s unofficial Twitter handle that is used to broadcast his speeches, statements and share his views.
It is expected in both camps that Thackeray may clarify his party’s stance on the alliance on Monday, on the occasion of his father and Sena founder Bal Thackeray’s birth anniversary. He will address party workers on Monday evening.
During the day, the BJP went into a huddle with its 21-member election committee members, legislators and Members of Parliament meeting chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.
“By making an offer of 60 seats, the Sena has insulted us. All party functionaries expressed their anger about such an offer to the CM. The BJP is still open to an alliance, but now the decision to take these talks forward has been left with the CM and state president Raosaheb Danve,” said Ashish Shelar, BJP city unit chief.
Sources told HT Fadnavis was also miffed with the Sena’s proposal of 60 seats. At the meeting, the CM reviewed the party’s manifesto, which is now expected to clearly spell out its agenda on transparency in the BMC administration.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray held a press conference to announce more freebies, this time, for Thane and Ulhasnagar residents — their civic corporations also go to polls next month.
He refused to comment on the alliance in Mumbai and only said he had neither received any proposal from the BJP nor had he been contacted by anyone about it. But by taking the surprise press conference to unofficially release the partial manifesto for Thane, he indicated his party was preparing to contest polls solo.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut, a bitter critic of the BJP, took the opportunity to slam the ally.
He said, “Sixty seats for the BJP is a more than a good offer. There are many within the party who feel 50-55 seats are enough going by the BJP’s ground strength in Mumbai.”
If Thackeray does not take a call on Monday, it is likely the decision on whether to have an alliance or not will get dragged out to next week, a day or two before the candidates for the polls are finalised through nominations before the state election commission.
It is learnt Fadnavis wants to avoid bitterness between the allies as much as possible ahead of the BMC polls and with this in mind may drag out the final decision. He was keen on an alliance if the Sena would have agreed to part with 105 to 110 seats. By offering 60 seats, the Sena seems to have indicated it is not keen on talks, said BJP leaders.
“We asked for 114 seats on Day 1. They asked us to list out the Warsaw, which we did seriously. After that, they sprung this ridiculous number of 60 seats to us. It shows they are not interested or want to waste time. Our cadre is now preparing to go solo,” said a BJP legislator.
Fadnavis also reviewed the party manifesto with the leaders, which will clearly spell out how the party plans to take its agenda of transparency forward.