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Sena, BJP may extend alliance to other states
N Sunil in Mumbai | April 26, 2003 23:26 IST
Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray on Saturday said his party was open to an electoral alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party outside Maharashtra for the Lok Sabha election.
"Alliance with the BJP outside Maharashtra is possible. We can go alone, but we are also open to an alliance. We are thinking in that direction, but we have not discussed it today," Thackeray said after addressing the concluding session of a Shiv Sena-BJP conclave at the Rangsharda auditorium in Bandra, Mumbai.
Though the two parties have together fought nine elections, including five Lok Sabha polls, since 1985, they have never continued the alliance outside Maharashtra. The Sena has contested in northern states on its own.
The two parties issued a code of conduct and decided to launch a joint campaign in Maharashtra for a possible midterm assembly or Lok Sabha election. The code of conduct stated that the partners would not air their grievances publicly.
The code of conduct also said they would not contest local or any other election against each other.
Inviting important leaders of the BJP and Shiv Sena to each other's local programmes, forming district-level coordination committees to resolve differences and addressing local/district issues were the other points in the code of conduct.
Asked why the alliance felt the need to issue a code of conduct, Thackeray said, "It is not a new thing. The alliance is very strong. Differences are always there. Nothing serious."
He denied that he had criticised the BJP's policies, and said he had spoken in national interest.
Thackeray had last week criticised Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for offering to initiate a dialogue with Pakistan.
BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan, who also spoke at the conclave, said, "There are no differences in our alliance on conceptual, practical, or personal levels. There could be differences in styles and words, but we are 100 per cent unanimous on all issues, including Hindutva to removal of Democratic Front government."
At the conclave, Thackeray reiterated his stand on stopping the influx of non-Maharashtrians into Mumbai.
There was nothing wrong in protecting the cultural identity of Maharashtrians in Maharashtra, Gujaratis in Gujarat, Punjabis in Punjab, he said adding that Hindutva could bring together the whole country.
Thackeray also made it clear to an estimated 450 people, including legislators, members of Parliament and state office bearers from both the parties, that indiscipline or violation of the code of conduct would not be tolerated.
Mahajan told the party workers that his analysis of the last three elections in the state showed that the Sena-BJP combine had won at least 180 seats at some point before losing them to the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party combine.
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said other decisions, including the names of the members of coordination committees, would be announced next week.
Several leaders, including Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, cousin Raj Thackeray, BJP vice-president Gopinath Munde and Leader of the Opposition Narayan Rane addressed the five-hour conclave.
More reports from Maharashtra
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