Mumbai: Rejecting the latest offer of 119 seats by the Shiv Sena (SS) for the Oct. 15 Maharashtra assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party said it had always adopted a spirit of `sacrifice` to save the saffron alliance in the past 25 years.
Simultaneously, in a mild softening of its stand, the state BJP said it has decided to send a fresh seat-sharing formula to the Sena before making any final move on the matter.
Senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar told media persons that the party`s core committee meeting unanimously expressed its desire to continue the alliance with the Sena.
"We have always kept a large heart in the past to save the alliance. When Shiv Sena wanted to project Sharad Pawar as prime minister, we did not object. Similarly, when they decided to support the candidatures of Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee for President, we relented in the interest of our partnership and for the people of the state," Mungantiwar said.
Leader of Opposition in the assembly Eknath Khadse added that in the past few years, the BJP has given as many as six sitting seats in the Lok Sabha and one in the Rajya Sabha to the Shiv Sena, but in return it did not get "a single assembly seat".
"This time, we are talking about giving us seats which neither the Sena nor the BJP has ever won in all the past assembly elections. BJP will try to make inroads, failing which the Congress-NCP will get the advantage there," Khadse said.
The duo reiterated that the BJP was open to continuing the alliance, provided it was worked out with "dignity and respect" for both parties.
"Now, our workers are not interested in making any more sacrifices. We are prepared for a seat-sharing alliance with respect and dignity. We should get to contest the seats which the SS has never won in the past," he said.
Mungantiwar pointed out that of the total 48 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state, the BJP used to contest 32 and the Shiv Sena 16 in the past, which has now increased to 26 and 24 respectively.
"For us, the immediate priority is to defeat the Congress-NCP. Everything else, including who will be next chief minister and other issues, can follow," Mungantiwar said.