Mumbai: Shiv Sena on Sunday 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.
“I cannot go any further,” said Mr. Thackeray, who addressed his party workers on Sunday morning after a meeting of the party’s state executive.
“Maharashtra will be the number one state in the country if Sena comes to power. I want power and I will take it at any cost. But this power is to give Maharashtra something and not to take away, like other parties do,” he said.
“Everyone knows how terrible the situation was when the Godhra riots took place. Everyone was saying that Mr. Modi should be immediately removed from the Gujarat Chief Minister’s post. At that time, it was only Balasaheb who told L.K. Advani that Mr. Modi should stay on as he pursues the Hindutva ideology,” he said.
Mr. Thackeray said that state BJP chief Devendra Fadanvis met him on Saturday night and proposed that Sena should contest 140 seats while BJP should get 130 (the rest going to smaller allies of Mahayuti). However, he couldn’t accept this as it would frustrate the aspirations of many Sena candidates, he said.
Reacting to senior state BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar’s allegation that the Sena did not support BJP in the last two Presidential elections, Mr. Thackeray said he was “proud” of the decisions then.
“BJP said we did not support them during the Presidential election by backing Pratibha Patil. But we backed her as she would be the first President from Maharashtra. We also backed Pranab Mukherjee as P.A. Sangma was not from NDA. He was originally an NCP leader,” he said.
Just as Sena did not play a spoilsport in BJP’s “Mission 272’ in the Lok Sabha polls, BJP should now respect Sena’s `Mission 150’ for the Maharashtra polls, he said.
“There are Shiv Sena workers in UP, Rajasthan and MP as well. They all wanted to fight elections saying they have been with Sena for long and thus deserve a chance. But we didn’t let them contest (against BJP/NDA candidates). Now it is Shiv Sena’s turn. It is our mission to send at least 150 MLAs to the Vidhan Sabha. BJP should consider this,” he said.
“I feel from the bottom of my heart that the alliance should stay as this alliance is not for the Chief Minister’s post but for Hindutva. But whatever happens will be my destiny. We are ready to contest all the seats,” the Sena chief said.