Hours after Uddhav Thackeray's tough talk on seat-sharing and that Sena cannot give beyond 119 seats, BJP told its old alliance partner that it was the duty of both the parties to continue the tie-up and sort out issues instead of going through the media, in remarks directed at the Sena chief.
Squabbling over seat-sharing showed no signs of resolution during the day with the BJP saying there was "nothing new" in Shiv Sena's final offer to give it 119 seats and hoped it can be mutually settled. In Mumbai, Shiv Sena made it clear that it won't make any more concession for BJP, offering to cede it only 119 out of the total 288 seats in Maharashtra Assembly for the next month's polls, and said this was "the final attempt" to break the logjam over seat-sharing.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray also reminded Prime Minister Narendra Modi that late Sena supremo Bal Thackeray had backed him in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots.
"Today I am making a final attempt to ensure that the Mahayuti (grand alliance of opposition parties) stays intact. Sena had initially asked for 160 seats. But now we are ready to part with nine seats. Shiv Sena will fight on 151 seats, leaving 119 seats for BJP. The remaining 18 seats will be given to our allies," he said.
Suggesting a way out to end the standoff, BJP leaders of opposition in Maharashtra Assembly and Legislative Council Eknath Khadse and Vinod Tawde said here the party wants Sena to re-negotiate on such seats that they never won in the last 25 years, so that they are not given to the NCP-Congress alliance on a platter in the upcoming polls.
"There is nothing new in the latest Shiv Sena offer as BJP has been contesting 119 seats ever since the alliance came into being. We want the alliance to continue. It is the duty of both Shiv Sena and BJP to maintain the alliance.
"We have 25 year-old ties and seat-sharing issue can be sorted out mutually through face to face talks and not through media (TV)," Tawde told reporters in a hurriedly convened press conference.
Khadse said, "Shiv Sena has been losing on 35 seats while we have been losing on 19, if these were to be re allocated then we would all benefit instead of these seats going automatically to Congress-NCP alliance."
"Many such seats had been lost by narrow margin in the previous elections. That was the thought and mindset behind the proposal for the 135 seats," he said. However, the BJP leaders also said they were ready to accept 130 seats --five seats down from its earlier demand.