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25-year-old Shiv Sena, BJP alliance crumbles

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MUMBAI: BJP on Thursday snapped its ties with its oldest saffron partner Shiv Sena after failure of talks on seat-sharing in the Maharashtra Assembly elections, ending a 25-year-old ideological alliance that had survived various vicissitudes.
The messy break up, which came after days of hectic parleys on seat-sharing between the leaders of both parties and their smaller allies has dramatically changed the scene in the state that has witnessed direct fight between two fronts– Sena-BJP and Congress-NCP–in the last 15 years.
“The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, which lasted over 25 years, has ended,” senior State BJP leader Eknath Khadse told reporters at the party office here tonight. The announcement came after failure of seat-sharing talks between the two prominent partners of the six-party `Mahayuti’ (grand) alliance, with just two days left to file nominations for the polls in 288 Assembly constituencies.

Buoyed by the Lok Sabha results in which the BJP-Sena alliance won 42 of the 48 seats, BJP upped the ante and demanded 135 which the Sena was not willing to give. Sena responded saying it would leave only 119 seats it had contested earlier but later agreed to concede a few more seats.
BJP later climbed down to 130. Describing the break-up as “unfortunate”, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, party in-charge for Maharashtra, blamed the “inflexible attitude” of the Sena for the split.
State BJP President Devendra Fadnavis said the decision to part ways with the Sena was “unfortunate” and “taken with a heavy heart.”
The Sena is the second constituent (after Haryana Janhit Congress) of the NDA to part ways with BJP after Amit Shah became its President in July.
There is speculation that Sena Lok Sabha MP Anant Geete may quit as Union Minister following today’s developments.
“There was so less time to file papers and our talks with Sena weren’t progressing. All proposals which came from Sena during the last 20-22 days of talks centred only on a specific number of seats and the issue of Chief Ministership,” said Khadse, Leader of Opposition in the outgoing Assembly.
Fadnavis said, “Today, they came with another proposal but said the discussion could progress beyond a certain number.”
Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council Vinod Tawde of BJP said the Sena proposal was discussed in the party’s Core Committee meeting here today. “With so less time left to file nominations, it was decided to take this painful decision.”
“We agreed to disagree (with Sena),” said Tawde, one of the BJP leaders who was involved in numerous rounds of negotiations with the Uddhav Thackeray-led outfit.


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