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Sena-BJP alliance still on shaky ground

Strain between the two parties intensifies as party workers express desire to contest civic polls alone, report Sanjeev Shivdekar and Sweta Ramanujan-Dixit.

india Updated: Oct 26, 2006 23:16 IST

Though it looked like their differences were resolved after the Chimur issue was settled, the Shiv Sena-Bhartiya Janata Party alliance is still on shaky ground.

Even though the party's top brass denies any rift, party workers on both sides are gradually making their sentiments known—that they prefer going to polls alone.

BJP's Pramod Shirvalkar, district president from Mumbai north-east, has invited nearly 1,800 representatives heading all the polling booths in the district for a meeting at Chembur.

Shirvalkar plans to use the opportunity to show strength and convey to the party's senior leadership that many party workers are not in favour of an alliance with the Sena.

"Those who are denied tickets by the Shiv Sena will go to the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. So why should we not fight on our own," Shirvalkar argued.

However, the party's spokesperson, Vinod Tawde, maintained that there is no tension between the Sena and BJP. "As per discussions at the state level between leaders of both parties the alliance is on and we will contest the civic polls together," Tawde said.

But a tussle between the two partners over seats cannot be ruled out completely. After the delimitation process of the 227 civic wards, the number of seats has gone up in the western and eastern suburbs of Mumbai.

During the last civic elections, of these 227 seats, the BJP contested 69 and won 36. The Sena contested the remaining 158 and won 103. This time, the Sena insists it will not let go of more than 75 seats.

While the BJP claims it still does not have a figure in mind, Tawde admitted that "equations have changed due to delimitation".

Meanwhile, according to sources in the Sena, the party's leadership has left it to vibhag pramukhs and district chiefs to decide whether they want to have an alliance with the BJP in their respective areas for the forthcoming municipal council and BMC elections.

A vibhag pramukh, on condition of anonymity, said that if the alliance ceases to exist, the Sena would contest all 227 seats. "It would increase party's prospectus of winning more seats than it had won in the last BMC elections in 2002," he explained.

During the tussle over Chimur, Ajay Chaudhary, another vibhag pramuk of the party had pointed out that prior to the alliance with the BJP, the Sena had won many assembly and municipal elections. "If a situation arises where party has to contest individually we are prepared," Chaudhary added.

First Published: Oct 26, 2006 23:16 IST