Mumbai: There seems to be no end to the deadlock between the BJP and Shiv Sena over seat-sharing for the October 15 Assembly Elections in Maharashtra.
Even as reports quoted top sources of the central BJP as saying that the split was final and that it was just a matter of time before a formal announcement is made, state leadership of the BJP and Shiv Sena said after another round of talks that nothing had been decided yet.
Emerging from a meeting at the residence of BJP in-charge of Maharashtra polls OP Mathur, state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis said that “the kind of proposals that have been coming in from Shiv Sena are not accommodating of the smaller parties' demands”.
“We are hoping for a fresh proposal from the Shiv Sena,” Fadnavis said, adding “we will have a core committee meeting to discuss the situation”.
Senior Shiv Sena leader Divakar Rawate, meanwhile, said that they have made a fresh proposal to the BJP.
While he did not reveal details of the latest offer, Rawate said it was upto the BJP to accept or reject it.
Speaking about the meeting, the Sena leader said the BJP members attending the meeting got up and left abruptly.
“This does not send the right signals,” he told reporters outside OP Mathur's residence.
The remarks from the two leaders followed reports that both the BJP and Shiv Sena have decided to fight the October 15 elections alone.
BJP spokesperson Shaina NC, however, asked the media “not to speculate” and “let the party make the announcement first”.
She refused to answer whether the alliance was still intact. “I am neither saying anything, nor suggesting anything,” Shaina said in response to the million-dollar question.
Earlier today, both the parties had claimed that the talks were still on.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said talks were still on between the two parties over seat-sharing. Shiv Sena sources also said the alliance was very much intact, adding they were still holding parleys.
Also this morning, BJP president Amit Shah cancelled his planned visit to Mumbai for the second time in two days, fuelling speculation that the alliance was almost over.
Shah was due to travel to Mumbai yesterday to hold talks with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray amid deadlock in talks over seat-sharing for the state elections.
While the visit was postponed yesterday, it was cancelled altogether this morning.
It had appeared last night that the 'Mahayuti' alliance of Shiv Sena, BJP and four smaller parties may survive after the smaller allies, who were unhappy with Shiv Sena's latest offer to BJP which left just seven seats for them, agreed to scale down their demand from 18 to 14 seats.
While BJP was open to giving some seats to the smaller allies from its quota, it was not ready to meet the full deficit of seven seats.
The Shiv Sena, on the other hand, refused to give up any more seats to save the alliance after settling for 151.
This proved to be the sticking point in finalising the seat-sharing agreement.
The two main allies had, after several rounds of talks, earlier agreed to the formula of 151 seats for the Shiv Sena and 130 for the BJP. The remaining seven, out of the total 288 seats, were left for the smaller parties.
These smaller parties include Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathan, Rashtriya Samaj Paksha, Republican Party of India (Athavale) and Shiv Sangram.
When the two bigger allies announced the formula, their smaller allies had threatened to walk out of the alliance.
However, a report had quoted Mahadev Jankar of the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha as saying Wednesday night that the smaller allies would be happy to fight on 14 seats instead of the earlier demand of 18.
Amid the deadlock, both the parties have already started efforts to win over smaller alliance partners in case the alliance is formally declared over.
"Whatever happens, the allies will be with Sena," the party's mouthpiece, 'Saamana', claimed today.
A senior BJP leader, on the other hand, said the smaller parties know that their interests would be served only by aligning with BJP.
"Be it a Union Cabinet berth, a Rajya Sabha seat or any position in the government, they know that only BJP has the power to do it," said the BJP leader, who did not want to be named.
A top state BJP leader, meanwhile, claimed, "The Sena leaders tried to incite smaller constituents of the Mahayuti against us."
RPI leader Ramdas Athawale further asked the BJP and Shiv Sena to not to break their alliance.
“If they do we shall decide our course of action,” he added.