Mumbai: The 25 years old Shiv Sena-BJP alliance on Wednesday appeared to be heading for rocky waters, with neither party willing to concede seats, in an indication of the trust deficit ahead of the October 15 Assembly elections in Maharashtra.
"The Sena leaders tried to incite smaller constituents of the Mahayuti (the opposition grand-alliance) against us," a top state BJP leader said here this evening, after another day of hectic parleys.
The BJP leader, who did not want to be named, said Shiv Sena was not willing to contest less than 150 seats, leaving 130 for BJP and 7 for others. "How will the allies agree to such a few seats," he said.
"This formula was proposed by Sena leaders to us yesterday but later the Sena people tried to convince our other allies that it was the BJP which floated this formula," the leader alleged. "This sort of behaviour is something which has raised our concerns," he said.
"By not willing to come down from this figure of 150, the Sena is making others insecure, indicating that it does not trust rest of the allies in Mahayuti," the BJP leader said.
BJP would have no issue if Sena agrees to contest 145 seats, leaving 125 for BJP and 18 for the allies, he said.
Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is visiting the Tulja Bhavani temple in Tuljapur tomorrow. Asked if anyone from BJP would be present, the leader quipped: "You take your wife to the temple, not your alliance partner."
The Mahayuti allies RSP, SSP and Shivsangram earlier today accused Sena and BJP of betrraying them on the allocation of seats. However, later they toned down their attack after meeting leaders of both the parties separately. (More) PTI
Asked if there would be another meeting of Shiv Sena and BJP leaders to sort out the alliance tangle, the BJP leader said, "Nothing is scheduled, but a meeting is not ruled out."
September 27 is the last day of filing nomination papers for the polls.
Earlier today, state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis and senior party leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy, after a meeting of state BJP's core committee here, ruled out discarding the smaller parties of the Mahayuti and tying up only with the Sena.
"How can we ditch these parties which reposed their trust in us ahead of Lok Sabha polls? We won't like to contest Maharashtra polls without a pact with these parties," Fadnavis said.
Interestingly, Ramdas Athawale-led RPI today gave an "ultimatum" till Thursday afternoon to Shiv Sena and BJP to allocate at least 18 seats to smaller constituents of 'Maha Yuti', saying the party will have a rethink on its continuation in the rainbow alliance should the saffron partners failed to oblige to their demand.
"We have met senior leaders of the BJP and Sena today and conveyed our party's stance that smaller alliance partners need to be given at least 18 seats to contest elections. If they fail to do that we will have to think of parting our way," senior RPI(A)leader Arjun Dangle told reporters here on the sidelines of his meeting with BJP leadership in suburban Mumbai.
Dangle said that RPI(A) will wait only till tomorrow afternoon before taking the decision.
"Athawaleji, who is in Delhi, will be reaching Mumbai tomorrow morning. Post his return, we will convene a party core meeting tomorrow and will decide on our course of action," he added.
The saffron combine has four junior partners in 'Mahayuti', cobbled together ahead of Lok Sabha elections, including Raju Shetty's Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), Mahadev Jankar's Rashtriya Samaj Party (RSP), Vinayak Mete's Shiv Sangram besides Republican Party of India (RPI).
Earlier in the day, three parties, namely SSS, RSP and Shiv Sangram had threatened to quit 'Mahayuti' over 'paltry' allocation of seats for October 15 Assembly polls.
However, they climbed down from their stand later following an assurance from Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray that they will be given a "respectable" number of seats.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana leader and Lok Sabha MP Raju Shetty told reporters after his meeting with Sena chief that they have presented a formula to Uddhav, wherein Sena gets to keep 150 seats, BJP 120 and allies 18.
RPI, which hardsells itself as a dominant dalit party, had contested 79 seats in 2009 state Assembly elections but drew a blank whereas SSS and RSP had contested 14 and 26 seats respectively, and won one seat each.