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Mumbai civic polls: No breakthrough after Round 3 of BJP-Sena talks

Another round of seat-sharing talks between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena, apparently at the behest of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, failed to break the deadlock .

mumbai Updated: Jan 22, 2017 00:41 IST
Surendra P Gangan and Faisal Malik
Surendra P Gangan and Faisal Malik
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Shiv Sena,BJP
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray are likely to intervene to decide the fate of the alliance.(HT)

Another round of seat-sharing talks between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena, apparently at the behest of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, failed to break the deadlock . The third round of talks between representatives from both parties did not take off after both realised it was difficult for them to reach an amicable solution. As such , it has again been left to Fadnavis and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to work a way out of the impasse.

What is the stumbling block? According to sources, it is the huge difference between the number of seats demanded by the BJP and that offered by the Shiv Sena. The BJP has demanded 114 wards, while the Sena offered only 60 seats, less than the 63 seats contested by the former in 2012. The representatives, involved in the negotiations from both the sides, have now left it to their respective top leadership to resolve the deadlock.

“Responding to our demand of 114 wards, our ally offered us 60 seats. As the gap was huge, we have reached to the conclusion that this cannot be resolved at our level. The top leaders from both the sides will now take a call and then only can further dialogue resume,” Ashish Shelar, Mumbai president of BJP said.

Though the BJP did not keep it a secret of its intention of demanding 50% of the total 227 seats, it did not expect Sena to offer it even fewer seats than it fought in 2012.

After a round of bickering led to the suspension of talks for an alliance on Friday, the third round of talks took place at Rangsharada in Bandra on Saturday. Chief minister Fadnavis asked BJP leader Vinod Tawde to get in touch with Sena leaders to resume the talks.

After Tawde spoke to Sena MP Anil Desai (who was part of Sena’s negotiating team), the third round of talks took place in the evening. As it was decided, both the parties exchanged the number of seats they wanted. The leaders from both the sides, after looking at each other’s offer, agreed upon only one thing that the discussion cannot go ahead at their level.

Shiv Sena leaders said their party has upped its strength much more than in 2014 elections and deserves to have bigger share in seat sharing. “We have performed well in our stint at the BMC and the citizens of Mumbai are in our support. Our strength in the city has risen after the 2014 assembly elections and we deserve to get more seats than in last election,” said Shiv Sena leader Anil Desai.

After teams of leaders from both the parties suspended the talks at their level, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray are likely to intervene to decide the fate of the alliance.

Besides Shelar, education minister Vinod Tawde, housing minister Prakash Mehta represented BJP in talks with the Shiv Sena represented by Anil Desai, Anil Parab and Ravindra Mirlekar .

The former partners, according to observers, have long way to go before they arrive on a consensus on the alliance.

Even if they arrive at an agreement, it will be difficult to agree upon the wards being demanded by the BJP. Many of the 114 wards being demanded by the BJP have the sitting corporators of the Sena, though the former’s demand is based on its performance in the 2014 assembly elections.

“The BJP has now claimed all seven wards in the Borivli assembly constituency, represented by Vinod Tawde, claiming that it had won four out of the five it contested in 2012. Sena had lost both the seats it fought. Similarly, in Vile Parle, the BJP is demanding the wards represented by Sena’s two powerful corporators. Of the 12 wards in Ghatkopar, the BJP has demanded 8 wards against the four it fought last time. There many such instances which could prove bone of contention for the talks,” said a Sena leader.

NCP promises complete medical cover for Rs101

In the run-up to the BMC elections next month, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is ready with big promises for Mumbaiites. The party has formulated a medical-insurance scheme that will cover all medical expenses of a person for just Rs101. The scheme will cover all the expenses of a patient right from admission to a hospital till it gets discharged. The party is in talks with private hospitals and insurance companies to make it practically and financially feasible. NCP Mumbai president Sachin Ahir confirmed to have formulated such a scheme for the manifesto but refused to divulge details.

The scheme that will be the major attraction of the NCP’s election manifesto is based on two medical schemes — Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayi Arogya Yojana (RGJAY) run by Maharashtra government and a medical-insurance scheme being introduced by the Uttar Pradesh government on pilot project, sources revealed. Initially, it will cover families with annual income more than Rs 1 lakh as RGJAY, being renamed as Mahatma Phule Jana Arogya Yojana recently, covers all the families having annual income of Rs 1 lakh and below, sources said. “The elite and upper middle class families will not like to take benefit of such a scheme, so we have formulated it keeping in mind families that belong to middle and lower middle class. Two insurance companies said the scheme is practically feasible and have agreed to become part of it,” said a senior NCP leader. The estimated cost of the scheme, is around Rs1,800 crore per annum, he added. The annual health budget of the BMC is Rs 3,700 crore

NCP not keen on Congress’ ‘seat-adjustment’ offer

The Mumbai Congress’ offer to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) for not fielding candidates against each other for a few seats in the civic elections was not accepted by the latter on Saturday.

Peeved that the Congress did not respond to its earlier offers for an alliance in Mumbai, the NCP said the decision over its candidates has already been taken and two lists of 76 candidates has been announced.

The Mumbai unit of NCP said only the party’s senior leaders can take a call on the proposal.

Congress, which was first to announce there will be no alliance with the NCP, on Friday offered to not field candidates to 20 seats where the NCP has sitting corporators or has better chances of winning. In return, it expected the same from the NCP. In the meeting of the party’s core committee on Friday, such a move was accepted by the Congress leaders. The Congress was expecting a similar assurance from its former ally. The party also clarified there would be no formal alliance between the two.

Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam said no formal discussion with the NCP has taken place. “If accepted by NCP, the adjustment can benefit us both. This will help us keep communal forces at bay,” Nirupam said. NCP, however gave a cold shoulder to Nirupam. “We have already announced two lists of candidates. Had the offer come to us before finalising the second list, it could have been thought of. I don’t think it is possible now at my level,” said Sachin Ahir, Mumbai NCP chief.

Most of the members of the Congress core committee, comprising former MPs, MLAs and leaders, were against forging an alliance with the NCP. They, however, agreed on adjustment on some of the seats for better prospects of both the parties.

According to sources in the Congress, the party would not insist upon the adjustment if no positive response was received from the other side. Sunil Tatkare, state NCP president said it is too late and also unfair if Congress is quoting a number of seats.

“I will still check with party president Sharad Pawar on this and will see what can be done,” Tatkare told HT.

First Published: Jan 22, 2017 00:41 IST