Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray held telephonic discussions Tuesday, paving the way for a second meeting on Wednesday for seat-sharing talks. The move is being seen as an indication that the two leaders are ready to make more attempts to arrive at a meeting point. However, the two sides also indicated that for conducive talks they would also have to ensure their leaders speak in similar voices inside and outside party fora.
Discussion between the two leaders had become inevitable following apprehensions raised by the Shiv Sena over the BJP’s pre-condition of ‘transparent’ working in the BMC mandatory for possible pre-poll alliance. Leaders from the two parties confirmed to The Indian Express that the CM and Thackeray held discussions. They said the two leaders had reiterated their stated position to sincerely make an attempt for a pre-poll alliance for the BMC.
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A flow chart of 227 wards would be unrolled Wednesday to ascertain the seat-sharing formula. The BJP expects 105 seats, but the Sena wants to give 90 to the ally. Insiders in the Sena and the BJP said neither side was officially willing to give up on its stand at the moment. The three-member teams of the Shiv Sena and the BJP have decided to meet again on Wednesday to try and take the discussion forward. The BJP will be represented by senior ministers Vinod Tawde, Prakash Mehta and Mumbai unit chief Ashish Shelar. The Sena team includes senior leaders Anil Desai, Anil Parab and Ravindra Mirlekar.
The insiders indicated that Sena, with its declining electoral graph in three successive elections, did not auger well for the overall polity. Any attempt for an alliance with the BJP would be more than welcome provided it is reasonable and if they are not made to bend backwards on seat-sharing formula.
The Sena leaders admitted that the anti-incumbency factor would be a critical aspect, which was being raked not only by its alliance partner BJP but also Opposition Congress and NCP. Keeping all these into account, sources said Thackeray did not confront BJP’s reference of transparency plank during the talks. The BJP has again conveyed to the Sena that it would not budge from its stated condition. Albeit, there can be some give and take on seats. Leaders from both parties maintained that the doors of negotiations were wide open and the two sides were willing to sit across the table and discuss on seats for the 227 wards.