Slowdown, anti-Govt undercurrent mood making BJP reconcile to Sena demand

Slowdown, anti-Govt undercurrent mood making BJP reconcile to Sena demand

Agency News

New Delhi, Sep 30: The BJP has apparently decided to make a climbdown in its seat sharing talks with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and has indicated that it would be giving away 124-125 seats out of 288 to its 'hardcore pro-Hindutva partner'.

BJP - till first week of September - had been adamant about taking the lion's share of seats for the October 21 Assembly elections in Maharashtra and the party was keen to part away with only 110 seats for its 'oldest ally'.

Maharashtra has 288 assembly seats. BJP contesting separately had won 122 and Sena 63 seats in 2014 elections.

At the BJP central election committee meeting here on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah and working president JP Nadda, among others, deliberated at length and understood to have 'decided to give' about 125 seats to Sena while retaining about 145 for itself.

The remaining seats can go to the smaller partners such as Republican Party of India (Athawale), it has been reportedly agreed upon.

A section of BJP leaders in Delhi admit that the "possible move" to reconcile with Sena's demand and to increase their tally by at least 15 seats more has been taken after taking into various factors.

One reason could be - by gauging the 'ground reality' that is a strong anti-incumbency mood - albeit latent - in some pockets.

"The anguish against BJP-Sena alliance is also guided by recent floods and layout in industrial jobs across Maharashtra and elsewhere in the country," a party source said on the condition of anonymity.

"Another reason is that the BJP wants to play safe. The larger number of seats the BJP contests, the responsibility will be more to win more seats.

Hence parting away some 15-20 seats for allies would mean other partners including Sena will also have to deliver," the source said.

"If the BJP takes more seats as was mooted earlier, there was a general perception growing that Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo wants to dominate everywhere. Hence, our message is well despite dealing with a position of strength, we are keen to negotiate and can be accommodated our allies," the leader explained.

There is also a feeling in a school of thought in BJP high command that Sena - notwithstanding the skirmishes in relations in the last few years - has a good support base and organisational strength.

"Sena is also the only pro-hardline Hindutva party which echoes BJP's spirit vis-a-vis all contentious issues starting from Article 370 to Uniform Civil Code and Ram Temple. Too much of hard bargaining can turn Sena into an effective opposition party in Maharashtra especially in a scenario when Congress-NCP has chance of getting marginalised more," the source added. (UNI)