AMID GROWING uncertainty over a pre-poll alliance with Shiv Sena, BJP president Amit Shah and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday asked party workers to be prepared to contest the Lok Sabha polls solo in the state.
Interacting with party workers in Latur, Fadnavis said, “We (BJP) should now prepare to contest all 48 seats.” Shah, who was presiding over the meeting, told party workers, “BJP will go on to win 40 (out of the 48 seats) in Maharashtra even without an alliance.”
“Yuti hogi toh saathi ko jeetayenge, nahin toh patak denge (If the alliance materialises, we will ensure victory for their candidates, otherwise we will trounce them),” he added.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had contested 26 seats in Maharashtra, leaving the remaining 22 for the Sena. While the BJP won 22 seats, Sena won 18. “Even if the alliance does not happen, we will win 40 seats,” Fadnavis said.
Late evening, Shiv Sena said in a statement: “Let there be a fight. Maharashtra will show them (BJP) their place.” The statement, attributed to a party spokesperson, added, “The BJP national president’s arrogant remarks have exposed his party’s stand. It is now clear that the BJP does not want to ally with those who believe in Hindutva.” It further contended that “tongues of BJP leaders had begun slipping” ever since Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray “spoke the mind of every Hindu” and raised the “pehale mandir, phir sarkar (first Ram mandir, then government)” slogan.
The Sena has been a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP governments at the Centre and in the state despite sharing power at both places. Fadnavis, meanwhile, has been a vocal advocate of a pre-poll alliance with Sena.
Shah on Sunday reviewed the BJP’s poll preparedness for Osmanabad constituency, currently represented by Sena. The review meeting saw Shah and Fadnavis hold interactions with over 5,000 booth workers from Latur, Nanded, Hingoli and Osmanabad. While the BJP won Latur in 2014, Nanded and Hingoli are currently represented by the Congress.
Drawing a parallel between the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and the Battle of Panipat, Shah said: “In 2014, we were in power in six states. Yet, we comfortably won the general elections. Now. we rule 16 states.” About a united Opposition, Shah said, “Let them all come together. We will still defeat them. In Uttar Pradesh, we will win 74 seats this time.”
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