Mumbai (The Hindu): Shiv Sena says no to local-level poll alliances with BJP, says it will have to be State-wide. Hinting that the Shiv Sena will not fight the civic elections in alliance with the BJP, party Chief Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday warned that an alliance in “selective” places will not be tolerated.
Asking his party to not get involved in a local level alliance with the BJP, Mr. Thackeray has also stripped his local party leaders of any decision-making power to avoid an alliance with the BJP at the district or tehsil level. All decisions on a poll alliance with the BJP will now have to be presented to the party leadership in Mumbai, specifically to the Thackeray family, which will decide on them. He has also asked his party members to be ready to contest the elections on their own.
Mr. Thackeray held a meeting with his deputies, MPs, MLAs, MLCs and ministers at his residence, Matoshri, to discuss the party’s strategy for the elections to 192 municipal councils and 20 village councils, which begin on November 27, 2016 and end on January 8, 2017.
While no official communication was released by the party after the meeting, party sources who attended the discussion said Mr. Thackeray sought to know the political situation in every district, and asked leaders to spell out possible political moves for the civic polls. The discussion, however, did not mention the municipal corporation elections, likely to be held simultaneously but yet to be announced.
“Mr. Thackeray has asked the BJP to depute one point person who will discuss all poll alliance matters with the Sena leadership. No separate talks will be tolerated and won’t be given any value,” a Sena leader said.
Clarififying on the Sena’s stand to not have alliances at ‘selective’ places, he said, “We will not do what BJP wants us to do. The BJP may want an alliance in a district where we are strong and they are weak, but do not want it in areas with a strong BJP presence. How can that work? If they want an alliance, it will have to be across the State. Otherwise, there will be no alliance.”
Fine with local-level alliances: BJP
The BJP, however, seem to be firmly against the idea of centralised decision-making, with its Maharashtra unit chief Raosaheb Danve saying his party has given all powers to the local leadership to decide on poll alliances. “Our position is to have alliances, but the final decision-making power is with the local leadership. We are ready to contest alone if the alliance does not materialise,” Mr. Danve said.
Taking a softer stand, State Finance Minister and BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar appealed to party members to not get involved in a political blame game. “The Sena should not criticise the BJP. It creates confusion among voters. The Congress and the NCP did the same, and they faced defeat. We must avoid this,” he said.
The Opposition grabbed the opportunity to target the ruling Sena-BJP coalition with both hands. Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil dared the Sena to snap ties with the BJP. “The Sena seems to be snapping ties with the BJP in civic polls, but if they have any self-respect left, they should show strength to call off the alliance in the State government,” Mr. Vikhe-Patil said.
He added that despite being insulted by the BJP at every step, “power-hungry” Sena has stooped so low that such hollow claims are made only to hide its greed.
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