Three weeks before the Maharashtra assembly elections, the 25-year-old BJP-Shiv Sena alliance collapsed Thursday, with the BJP deciding to fight the polls with smaller allies.
State BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis announced that the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena had “decided to go our independent ways” following the failure of seat-sharing talks.
A Shiv Sena leader who did not wish to be identified by name told IANS that the BJP’s “super arrogance” — following its victory in the Lok Sabha battle — was to blame for the end of the alliance.
The break-up came after days of bickering over which party in the six-party Grand Alliance will contest how many seats and who will be the chief ministerial candidate.
“We tried out level best till the very last to save the alliance,” a grim looking Fadnavis told the media.
“However, there was no suitable proposal from the Shiv Sena on the issue of seat-sharing which could honourably accommodate all the partners.
“Hence we have decided to go our independent ways,” he said.
Responding to the development, Shiv Sena MP Anandrao Adsul alleged that the BJP’s decision to dump the Sena followed its “secret understanding” with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Speculation was rife whether the Shiv Sena would now continue to remain with the BJP-led government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
There were reports that Anant Geete, the sole Sena minister in the Modi government, had left New Delhi for Mumbai.
Fadnavis, however, said that the BJP would continue its “friendship” with the Sena and his party would not attack the Sena during the election campaign.
“We regret and feel sad by this (development) but we had no options as the Shiv Sena did not cooperate till the last minute,” he said.
“The deadline for filing nominations is Sep 27, and we were compelled to take this decision reluctantly,” Fadnavis said.
BJP’s Eknath Khadse, leader of the opposition in the Maharashtra assembly, said the Sena refused to budge from its stand of contesting 151 seats in the 288-member assembly.
This left 137 seats for the BJP, the Republican Party of India (A), the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS), the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP) and the Shiv Sangram.
Of these, he said the SSS, RSP and Shiv Sangram had decided to ally with the BJP for the Oct 15 elections.
Khadse added that the Shiv Sena’s discussions centred more on the post of chief minister.
“Our united efforts were to rid Maharashtra of the Congress-NCP combine at any cost. Other things would follow,” Khadse said, reiterating the BJP stand.
The Sena-BJP alliance was widely expected to seize power in the upcoming assembly elections.
Senior BJP and Shiv Sena leaders had indicated to IANS Sep 19 that the alliance was virtually over.
“It’s on the verge of breaking. Only a formal announcement is awaited,” a senior BJP leader had said.
Similarly, a Shiv Sena functionary hinted to IANS that the alliance “is over” but the party had decided to wait for further developments before declaring its stand.