BJP's fresh offer of 130 seats to Sena, but ready to go alone

BJP's fresh offer of 130 seats to Sena, but ready to go alone

As BJP today sent a "very liberal proposal" to Shiv Sena seeking to contest 130 of Maharashtra's 288 Assembly seats, its saffron ally appeared in no mood to oblige, raising further the possibility of disintegration of the 25-year-old alliance.

A top Maharashtra BJP leader and the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Eknath Khadse even went to the extent of saying the alliance was on the "death bed".

The deadlock has left smaller allies of 'Mahayuti', a mega-alliance led by Sena and BJP, restive with one of them threatening to walk out and contest the polls alone.

A day after Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray talked tough and made a "final offer' under which his party would fight 151 seats, BJP 119 and allies the rest 18, BJP made a counter offer seeking 130, a climbdown from earlier 135, but said it would contest all 288 seats if "compelled" to part ways from its oldest ally in the NDA.

Though no Shiv Sena leader was prepared to go on record about the party's response to BJP's proposal, a party MP, speaking on condition of anonymity, said "the proposal is old. Uddhav Thackeray has made it clear that his offer is final."

BJP General Secretary in charge of Maharashtra Rajiv Pratap Rudy said in Delhi that his party has sent "a very liberal proposal" to Sena as the 130 seats include the "worst" possible seats which its ally had never won in last 30 years.

"The fact is that the proposal which has been given and conversation which has taken place with BJP President (Amit Shah).... a very liberal proposal has been sent to Shiv Sena.

"The other seats which we are demanding are those which Sena has never won in last 30 years. We have said... give us the worst possible seats but give us the numbers," he he said.

"In a contingent situation that the BJP is compelled not to contest with Shiv Sena, we would go it alone on all 288 seats but we will prefer that Shiv Sena comes along," Rudy told reporters.

Party sources said they have prepared a list of candidates for a majority of seats barring "20-30" where they were still looking for appropriate names or expecting leaders from other parties to join them.

"We are not in favour of breaking the alliance. But we are also not in a mood of tolerating their (Sena) uncompromising attitude. There can be flexibility but we are getting to hear their proposals only on news channels," a BJP leader said.

Khadse, one of the claimants for Chief Minister's post if BJP came to power, said the alliance was practically on the "death bed".

"The eyes are not moving, so are hands and legs. Looks like its time for (last) preparations," he told a private Marathi TV channel.

With no clarity yet on the fate of the alliance, two of Mahayuti's smaller constituents today asked Sena and BJP to resolve the seat-sharing tangle quicky, failing which they would "think of other options."

In separate media briefings, RPI president Ramadas Athawale and Rashtriya Samaj Party leader Mahadev Jankar said Sena and BJP should get their act together to prevent Congress-NCP combine from winning a fourth consecutive term in Maharashtra.

"If the seat-sharing issue is not resolved tomorrow and if the alliance breaks, RSP will contest 125 seats on its own," Jankar said.

Athawale said neither Sena nor BJP should take RPI for granted. "Don't take us for granted. Sort out the Mahayuti seat-sharing issue fast," he said.

"People want change. We should not betray them," he said, adding BJP should consider the formula put forth by Uddhav Thackeray.

"NCP chief Sharad Pawar called me recently and made an offer that RPI could align with them if things don't go well in Mahayuti," Athawale said.

Asked what would he do if Sena-BJP alliance breaks, Athawale said, "We have the option of going with either Sena or BJP or contesting on our own or we may even think of the other alternative (going with NCP)."

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