With seat-sharing talks between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the Mumbai civic polls reaching a stalemate, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has set a deadline of January 26 to decide the fate of the alliance.
Addressing party workers on the birth anniversary of Sena founder Bal Thackeray, Thackeray said, “Whatever I want to say I will on January 26. I will talk about it in detail then. As of now, we are still standing at the doorstep and we could go either ways, so it is better to stay silent today.” Thackeray will address Sena workers at a gathering on Thursday, giving political direction a day before the process of filing nominations for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election begins.
The BJP and the Sena have been locked in seat-sharing talks for a week, with discussions having now come to a standstill. The BJP has given a wish list of 114 of the 227 wards, while the Sena has categorically said it is willing to part with just 60, three less than what the BJP contested in 2012. Meanwhile, both parties are preparing ground to contest solo if need be, with the Sena having gone ahead and published its manifesto for the BMC polls.
Till late on Monday night, the Sena had not given the BJP a renewed seat-sharing proposal for the BMC polls. Sources said formal talks have been suspended and discussion on the alliance will now be held through back channels or directly between the two top leaders — Thackeray and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. While the local leadership of both the parties is in favour of contesting independently, Fadnavis and Thackeray have been of the opinion that a pre-poll alliance will ensure a more comfortable victory because without it the Sena and BJP might end up as each other’s biggest threats. The duo was expected to discuss the state of the alliance on Monday night, but there was no confirmation on this.
While Thackeray did not make any direct political statements at Monday’s function, he did not spare his party’s ally from veiled barbs.
The Sena chief said the cost of implementing all the promises listed in the party’s manifesto released earlier on Monday will definitely be lower than the cost of the prime minister’s advertisements. “It is public money and should be used for their welfare. There is no point in printing your own face with it,” Thackeray said.
He said the atmosphere today is such that people are trying to divide castes and communities. “All Maharashtrians and Hindus should give it a thought. In Tamil Nadu, an entire state came together to put up a tough fight before the Centre to celebrate Jallikattu. That is unity. If we don’t stay united, the political administrators will pull us apart into small portions” the Sena chief said, emphatically adding his party will not let anyone tear Mumbai apart.
Meanwhile, BJP state president Raosaheb Danve said his party was still positive about an alliance with the Sena in the upcoming polls. “We are waiting for a positive proposal from the Sena for Mumbai. So far, we have not got it. Wherever an alliance is possible we will go ahead with it,” said Danve.
He said there was no deadline for announcing an alliance or otherwise. When asked whether BJP had started preparations to contest the polls solo, he said, “We have started our preparations and they have started theirs. In politics, nobody waits for anyone. The alliance will happen only on the 2014 (assembly results) formula.”
The BJP is insisting on the 2014 assembly polls formula in which the party got the maximum elected legislators from the city, 15 out of 36 legislators. The Sena won 14 seats in the 2014 polls. The party, however, claims that the 2012 civic corportation polls results should be taken as the baseline for the new formula.