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Saturday, Oct 19, 2019

Maha polls: Shiv Sena leaders claim party will either contest 144 or 288 seats

mumbai Updated: Sep 20, 2019 00:28 IST
Swapnil Rawal
Swapnil Rawal

With no mutually agreeable seat-sharing formula for the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly polls so far, the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are engaged in posturing.

To put pressure on the BJP, Sena leaders are now claiming the party will only accept equal share of seats.

The issue is expected to get resolved on Sunday, when BJP chief Amit Shah visits the city. He is likely to meet top BJP-Sena leaders on Sunday.

In the initial round of discussions, leaders from the two saffron parties have been unable to work out a seat-sharing agreement.

It is learnt that the BJP is pushing to keep more seats out of the 288 Assembly seats, while the Sena is sticking to the 50:50 formula announced by the chief minister.

Now, Sena leaders, including Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut and state transport minister Diwakar Raote, have said the Sena will contest either 144 or 288 seats, suggesting the party will prefer to go solo, if the BJP doesn’t keep its promise of sharing seats equally.

Yuva Sena chief and Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray, too, has made statements that they are sticking to the announcement of equal sharing of seats made by CM Devendra Fadnavis in February.

Thackeray, on Wednesday, said, “The CM and Uddhavji are in talks. Only they know about it. But the Sena will go by what the CM announced in the press conference in Worli, and never betray.”

Raote, a senior party leader, told reporters the alliance could snap if the Sena did not get 144 seats to contest.

Backing Raote, Raut said, “The 50:50 [seat-sharing] formula was decided by Amit Shahji, the chief minister and Uddhavji… Whatever my senior colleague [Diwakar Raote] said is not wrong.”

Raut, however, ruled out snapping alliance on the issue. “We will contest elections together. Why wouldn’t we?”

The two parties are building pressure on each other to get more seats. The Sena and BJP are at loggerheads over the Metro car depot at Aarey Milk Colony.

The BJP has also raked up the Nanar oil refinery issue to put pressure on the Sena, as the region is the latter’s stronghold.

The Sena, meanwhile, is not reacting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that the current state government was a “minority” government.

In a jibe without naming its ally Sena, the PM also slammed it for harping on the Ram Mandir issue.

The PM said “loudmouths” should refrain from making statements on the issue and have faith in the judicial system.

Raut declined to comment on the statements and said, “I would not like to comment as he is the prime minister. It would not be appropriate.”

First Published: Sep 20, 2019 00:28 IST

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