Ahead of the formal pre-poll talks beginning January 15, the Shiv Sena and the BJP on Friday engaged in a game of oneupmanship, pushing tough terms and conditions for the municipal corporation and zilla parishad elections. Political managers said the BJP would not settle for anything less than 105 seats out of the total 227 seats for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls. Whereas, the Sena indicated it would be difficult to concede more than 90 to 95 seats.
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In the 2012 elections, the BJP contested in 63 seats and the Sena in 164. It had conceded some seats from its quota for the RPI. The BJP won 32 seats, the Sena 75. Now, the BJP has rejected the 2012 seat-sharing formula, arguing that the party has grown politically in Mumbai manifold.
The BJP also indicated that the Sena would have to concede to allowing their mayor and standing committee leader for two-and-half-years term out of five years as a pre-poll condition. The rider is part of the BJP’s condition for transparent and accountable administration in municipal corporations across the state, including Mumbai. The three-member team from the BJP which will engage in the negotiations include Minister for Education Vinod Tawde, Housing Minister Prakash Mehta and Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar. From the Shiv Sena, the team will include senior minister Subash Desai, senior leader Anil Desia and Anil Parab or Arvind Sawant.
A senior Sena leader on condition of anonymity said, “Frankly, possibilities of a cordial pre-poll alliance is mission impossible. Yet, both sides are trying to make a last attempt to find out if there would be a meeting point to keep the saffron partnership intact in this polls.” He also indicated that a uniform alliance across the 10 municipal corporations and zilla parishads was out of the question on both sides. The efforts are only confined to Mumbai, Thane and select zilla parishads.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis along with the BJP top leadership held meetings to evolve the poll strategy on Friday. A senior BJP functionary said, “At the local level, Mumbai, Pune, Thane and Nagpur units of the BJP have conveyed they are not in favour of any alliance with the Sena.” A Sena MP said, “The BJP wants to saddle us with pockets where Muslims have a bigger votebank to show they have given us more seats. What is the use of accepting these seats.”