As the pre-poll alliance talks between the BJP and the Shiv Sena show no signs of concluding, Uddhav Thackeray’s party has made it known that it would want a tie-up on a ‘cluster model’, if not for the whole state. The Sena is not in favour of fighting together in one city and as rivals in a neighbouring area. The BJP, however, is yet to show support to the idea.
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A highly placed source in the BJP told The Indian Express, “The Sena president wants the BJP to consider a pre-poll alliance at least in Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nashik municipal corporations. The piecemeal approach for pre-poll alliance does not make sense. We have to fight together in at least one region, if not all 10 corporations. They cannot be our friend in Mumbai and attack us in Thane.”
Dates for municipal corporation elections in 10 key cities are likely to be announced this week, heating up negotiations for pre-poll tie-ups.
Sources in the Sena said they were ready with candidates in all seats if the tie-up talks with the BJP don’t work out. A senior Sena minister said: “Unlike the 2014 assembly elections, we will not be caught napping. We are ready with our list of candidates in all the 10 cities. We are not against an alliance with the BJP but it should be on our terms and conditions. We expect the BJP to respond to our pre-poll pact at least in four cities: Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nashik.”
The BJP said the party was against the Sena setting conditions. A senior BJP functionary said, “The BJP has made it clear that it would expect the Shiv Sena to treat us on an equal footing. Moreover, the Sena cannot impose any condition for a pre-poll pact. Our top leadership at the Centre is not very happy with the Sena’s blow-hot blow-cold politics, and with their obsession to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
In the 2012 elections, the Sena emerged the leading party in Mumbai, winning 75 out of total 227 seats. The BJP with 31 seats was at number three. The Congress won 52, NCP 13, MNS 28 seats and others 28 seats. In Thane, Sena was winner with 53 seats. The BJP won 7, NCP 34, Congress 18, MNS 2, BSP 2 and others 8.
At Nashik, Sena won 19 seats and the BJP 14. The MNS held the control in the corporation with 40 seats, Congress 15, NCP 20 seats and others 11. The scenario in Pune was better for BJP with 26 seats compared to Sena’s 15. But the Pune corporation was led by NCP with 51 seats. The Congress won 28 seats and the MNS 29.