Uddhav Thackeray, Devendra Fadnavis share stage at Mumbai event; will they share poll seats too?
Fadnavis and Thackeray held a 20-minute meeting, but Sena leaders maintained there was no discussion of the polls or the alliance during this time.Updated: Jan 24, 2019 07:56 IST
For a few hours on Wednesday, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray shared a stage and appeared cordial at an event to hand over a plot at Shivaji Park for the Bal Thackeray memorial, even as uncertainty continues over whether the BJP and Sena will join hands for the upcoming elections.
Before the event, Fadnavis and Thackeray held a 20-minute meeting, but Sena leaders maintained there was no discussion of the polls or the alliance during this time. “There was a great deal of camaraderie between the CM and the Thackeray family,” said a senior Sena leader, but added, “The CM is trying hard for the alliance to continue. One still can’t say if it will happen as Sena top brass is divided on the issue.”
Fadnavis’ attendance at the function came a day after his government cleared a proposal to grant ₹100 crore to build the memorial, and is seen as part of the BJP’s alliance diplomacy to get the Sena, despite the latter’s continued criticism against it. Apart from Fadnavis, BJP MP and member of the ‘Balsaheb Thackeray National Memorial Trust’, Poonam Mahajan was also at the function.
“The Sena does not mind losing seats in Lok Sabha to teach the BJP a lesson,” the senior Sena leader said. “But, we are concerned with how the party performs in the Assembly. Further, in lieu of the Congress-NCP tie-up, we may need an alliance and a favourable one from the BJP.” The leader said Thackeray was still considering going solo but is also keeping in mind the Congress’ resurgence in three states.
HT earlier reported that informal talks for an alliance was held by both the party heads, and the Sena insisted on an equal seat-sharing formula for both the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. It is also learnt the party plans to call PM Narendra Modi for the formal bhumipujan for the memorial, if alliance talks work out.
On its part, the Sena has firmed up plans to contest the Lok Sabha polls in Bihar, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh, in a clutch of seats to expand its base, get a national tag and keep the BJP in check. Party leaders admitted this was also a way to pressurise the BJP to agree to a better deal.
“The Shiv Sena will contest Lok Sabha elections in all states, except those in the north-east. The move is in line with the party’s resolution in its national executive meeting in 2018… In Uttar Pradesh, we are contesting 25 seats. We will field candidates in Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, etc,” said Anil Desai, Rajya Sabha MP and Sena secretary.
He said the party does not have any presence in the seven northeast states, and would not put up candidates there. The party is working out the number of seats it would contest in different states in the general elections.
On January 23, 2018, the national executive of the party passed a resolution to contest all elections without an alliance with BJP. The Sena contested Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh recently.
According to the rules of the Election Commission of India, a political party is eligible to be recognised as a national one if it fulfils two criteria — it has won 2% seats in Lok Sabha from at least three different states in the latest general elections; or, in a Lok Sabha or Assembly election, it has polled 6% of the total valid votes in at least four states, in addition to winning four Lok Sabha seats; or it has been recognised as a state party in at least four states.