Sena for poll ties with BJP

Sena for poll ties with BJP

Agency News

After several weeks of grandstanding when it threatened to break off ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Shiv Sena agreed to tie up with the BJP largely on the latter's terms.

While the BJP will contest 25 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the elections, the Shiv Sena will contest in 23, the Maharashtra Chief Minister, Mr. Devendra Fadnavis, said at a joint press conference with the Shiv Sena chief, Mr. Uddhav Thackeray. Other leaders including the BJP president, Mr. Amit Shah, the Union Minister, Mr. Prakash Javadekar of the BJP and former Chief Minister, Mr. Manohar Joshi of the Shiv Sena were also among those on the dais.

In a major climbdown, the Shiv Sena agreed to contest in as many seats as the BJP in the assembly elections due next year. 'After allotting seats to our allies, the BJP and the Shiv Sena will divide the remaining seats equally,' Mr. Fadnavis told reporters.

Earlier Shiv Sena leaders had indicated that the regional party would contest in half the 288 seats in the state legislature while the BJP would have to accommodate smaller parties from its quota. However by evening, the Shiv Sena leaders had piped down.

At a press conference, Mr. Fadnavis announced that both parties would be contesting this year's elections together. 'We have had differences of opinions in the past, but we share the same ideology. At a time when those who believe in nationalism are being targeted, patriotic parties must come together,' he said. 'People have seen us together for the past 30 years. As the Chief Minister said there have been differences between us. I have also provided guidance to the government whenever required,' Mr. Thackeray said.

Later, Mr. Amit Shah told reporters that the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance would win 45 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.

Earlier, Mr. Shah met Mr. Thackeray to seal the seat-sharing arrangements.The Sena wanted the BJP to consider it the 'big brother' in the alliance, even demanding that the party give up the chief minister’s position.