Mumbai: Amid reports that the BJP has decided to contest upcoming assembly polls in Maharashtra on 119 seats, the Shiv Sena on Thursday reiterated that the ties between the two parties are very strong and will remain so in future.
Speaking to reporters, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, “Ties between the two parties are strong as ever and we will contests the assembly polls in the state together.”
Raut, however, added that the Maharashtra Chief Ministerial candidate will be picked by the Shiv Sena.
Dismissing suggestions that Shiv Sena has put pressure on BJP to accept its demand for contesting on more seats, Raut said, "There was no pressure. In an alliance such talks do happen. A national party may think that they want more seats because of the demands made by the party workers. But in Maharashtra, Sena will contest more seats."
"Right from the beginning, people said that the alliance won't last. But our alliance is on ideology," he added.
When asked to tell from which seat his party chief will contests the polls, the Shiv Sena leader said, “All seats are safe for Uddhav Thackeray to contest. He can contest from anywhere."
He also rejected suggestions that the tension over seat-sharing has strained ties between the two parties.
His remarks came hours after reports said that the ongoing tussle between Shiv Sena and the BJP over seat-sharing seems to have ended with the latter deciding to contest on 119 instead of 135 seats in the upcoming assembly polls in Maharashtra.
A decision in this regard was taken after Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari met the Maharashtra BJP leaders in Mumbai on Wednesday night. During the meeting, Gadkari and the party's state unit leaders agreed to contest polls on 119 seats and also made the recommendations to the BJP top brass. The BJP central leadership is likely to make a formal announcement in this regard today.
State BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis, Eknath Khadse, Vinod Tawde and senior leader Sudhir Mungantiwar were also present during the meeting.
The BJP's change of heart comes just days after its dismal performance in the recently held bypolls in nine states. As per the reports, the deciion taken by the BJP leaders has been duly communicated to the Shiv Sena.
The state BJP leaders had earlier met BJP national president Amit Shah at an event in Mumbai. The 25-year-old alliance had come under strain after a deadlock over seat-sharing between the two parties for sharing the 288 state assembly seats for fighting the elections slated next month.
The Shiv Sena had on Monday rejected the 135-seat sharing compromise formula offered by the BJP for Maharashtra Assembly elections. The Sena has been firm that it will contest on at least 150 seats in the 288-member Assembly.