Alliance tangle: Sena talks tough as BJP core committee meets

Mumbai, Sep 19: A day after rejecting BJP's reported 'ultimatum' to finalise a seat-sharing pact or be ready to part ways, Shiv Sena on Friday hardened its stance further, asserting it will continue to be the senior partner in Maharashtra where its leader will become the Chief Minister.

"In Maharashtra, Shiv Sena is the party which gives (seats) and not the one that asks (for seats). It was a bigger party in the state and will remain so. "Shiv Sena had been in Maharashtra politics even before BJP was born. It doesn't matter whether there is an alliance or not. The Chief Minister will be be from Shiv Sena," party spokesman and MP Sanjay Raut said.

BJP president Amit Shah had said at a public rally in Maharashtra yesterday that the next government in the state will be formed by his party.

Raut said a meeting of the party's executive has been called on September 21 which will be attended by all MPs and MLAs where Sena President Uddhav Thackeray will announce the final decision on alliance with BJP. "It is in this meet that Uddhavji will announce his final decision on the alliance with BJP," he said.

Raut said the party's core committee had in its meeting last night authorised Uddhav to take a call on the alliance keeping in mind the "prestige of Maharashtra, self-respect of the party and Balasaheb Thackeray's principles".

Raut, however, sought to temper his tough talk by rubbishing media reports that the two saffron allies were headed for a split.

"We have been together for 25 years. But no news of breaking the alliance has reached us yet. We have not given any (seat sharing) formula to our alliance partner but self- respect is more important," he said.

There were reports that Shiv Sena had offered to leave 119 seats for BJP, the number it had contested in the 2009 elections, and asked it to accomodate smaller allies as well in its quota.

Sena had earlier rejected BJP's proposal that the two major allies of 'Mahayuti' contest 135 seats each while leaving the rest for smaller partners like RPI(A) and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana.

BJP sources had said last night that the party had rejected Sena's 'counter offer' of sticking to the 2009 poll formula of contesting 119 seats. "We have been demanding at least 135 seats," they had said. 


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