Mumbai (The Hindu): Even as dates for the civic polls were announced on Wednesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena are yet to finalise their pact.
Surprisingly, a day after Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) opened the door for alliance, the MNS did a U-turn and said it will go it alone.
On Wednesday, the BJP and the Sena agreed to initiate talks with none of them committing to fight as a team. “I have not received any proposal for alliance. It is likely that the talks will begin today. While three leaders from each party will discuss the strategy, the final decision will be taken by me and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis,” Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray told reporters.
Mr. Thackeray said he has never been ‘negative’ about the prospects of an alliance with the BJP. “The Sena-BJP alliance is the longest-run coalition ever. Had I been negative about it, I would not have sent my men for a discussion. We are not forming an alliance for the first time. It will happen once the talks begin.”
Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar too said his party is ‘positive’ about an alliance. “We won’t get into the numbers game (seat-sharing) publicly. We will invite the Sena for talks,” said Mr. Shelar after meeting Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at his official residence ‘Varsha’, along with State BJP chief Raosaheb Danve.
While talks for alliance in municipal corporation polls are on, both the parties have asked the local leadership to decide on the fate of coalition for zilla parishad polls.
On Thursday, the BJP will be holding its State executive committee meeting in Thane to decide on the party’s strategy.
“Going by the experience in the 2014 Assembly polls, we have made our preparations and are ready to contest the BMC polls on our own, if told by Uddhavji,” said a senior Sena minister from the State Cabinet.
Meanwhile, the MNS chief said he was wrongly quoted and had never made such a statement. “These reports are nothing but absolute rumours and my party will go alone in the polls,” he said, while inaugurating the party’s war room for the polls in Dadar.
Recently, many MNS activists have quit and joined another party. “I am not bothered about the exits. Those who want to quit, can leave. I have a number of people who stand with me.”
Opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are in a similar situation. Despite Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam’s repeated refusals to form an alliance with the NCP, latter’s Maharashtra chief Sunil Tatkare on Wednesday yet again expressed optimism, saying being a bigger party, the Congress must take an initiative to form an alliance. “We are always ready for talks, but Mr. Nirupam has not shown willingness. As a result, we had to announce our first list,” said Mr. Tatkare.
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