Uddhav rejects BJP demand for 135 seats, ties under strain

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Mumbai, Sep 15: Talking tough, Shiv Sena today rejected BJP's proposal for contesting 135 seats in the October 15 Maharashtra assembly elections, suggesting there existed the "alternative" of going it alone if seat-sharing talks failed.

"They (BJP) offered a proposal under which they wanted to contest 135 seats and I have rejected it," Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray told reporters here. Reflecting the unease in the alliance, which after a spectacular showing in Lok Sabha elections, was hoping to wrest Maharashtra from the Congress-NCP combine after a 15-year rule, Uddhav appeared to suggest that Shiv Sena could go to the hustings alone if negotiations failed.

"Everything has an alternative. I have conveyed it to BJP that I can't go beyond a point (over the number of seats to contest)," he said when asked if his party had kept open the option of the party fighting election on its own if a mutually acceptable seat-sharing formula proved elusive.

Senior BJP leader and spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy had yesterday said his party had proposed that after allotting seats to smaller allies like RPI(A) and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana of Raju Shetty, the two major constituents of 'Mahayuti' (grand alliance) should contest an equal number of 135 seats.

He also trashed state BJP spokesman Madhav Bhandari's yesterday's claim that talks between the two oldest allies in the Centre's ruling NDA had been stalled after Uddhav "demeaned" Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an event here last Saturday. "I have nothing to say on BJP spokesman Madhav Bhandari's comment that the talks have been stalled and BJP is contemplating going alone. It is surprising that those who are not involved in the talks are saying discussions are not happening," he said. Shiv Sena and BJP had contested 169 and 119 seats in the 2009 assembly election, winning 44 and 46 seats respectively.


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