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We're hoping alliance with Sena will continue: BJP
October 05, 2006 13:39 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party said on Thursday that it was optimistic that its 22-year-old alliance with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra would continue, despite contradictory signals emanating from the Sena camp.
"I don't see any reason why the alliance should not continue," BJP spokesperson Prakash Jawdekar told PTI over phone from Delhi. He was asked about Sena leaders' demand to party chief Bal Thackeray to snap ties with the BJP due to latter's insistence on contesting the Chimur Assembly bypoll.
"In fact, it is in Sena interest to let the BJP contest Chimur seat as it is the only party that can defeat the Congress in the Assembly constituency and foil designs of former Sena leader Narayan Rane," he said.
The bypoll in Chimur in Vidarbha region has been necessitated after a Sena MLA and Rane supporter Vijay Wadeiitwar quit the seat and joined the Congress.
However, the by-election date has not been announced yet.
Rane joined the Congress last year after he was expelled from the Shiv Sena. His supporter Wadeiitwar quit the Chimur seat and also the Sena and followed him into the Congress. Rane is now a minister in the Vilasrao Deshmukh government.
Asked if Maharashtra BJP leaders, including state unit president Nitin Gadkari and senior leader Gopinath Munde, would hold talks with the Sena leadership to sort out the issue, Jawdekar said, "We are always open to discussing any issue which would be in the interests of the alliance. Gadkari has gone to Nagpur. Munde has gone to Beed (in central Maharashtra)."
"This is our reaction. You are free to draw your own conclusions," he said when asked for a formal reaction over the latest development on the Chimur by-poll that threatens to rock the BJP's alliance with its ally. "I am sure Sena leadership will understand that giving up their claim over Chimur seat is in their own interest and also that of the alliance."
Relations between BJP and Shiv Sena may now be at their lowest ebb in the last 22 years, but there is unanimity over the fact that had late Pramod Mahajan been alive today, the ties between the saffron partners would not have hit such a low.
The senior BJP leader, who was shot dead by his younger brother in May, was not only considered an architect of the alliance in Maharashtra but also someone who kept it going.
Mahajan's proximity to 79-year-old Sena supremo Bal Thackeray ensured that despite some instances of trouble in their relationship, things never went out of control.
Never in the past had any Sena leader publicly blamed a BJP state unit president for 'harming' the alliance, which even came to power in the state from 1995 to 1999.
After Wednesday night's meeting at Thackeray's residence in suburban Bandra, it has emerged that state BJP president Nitin Gadkari was the target of the Sena leaders' ire.
These leaders expressed disappointment that the central BJP leadership was 'not doing enough to reign in Gadkari', who was allegedly sabotaging the alliance by insisting on Chimur assembly seat, which was contested by a Sena candidate last time.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who also attended the meeting, said Gadkari's 'adamant' stance on Chimur seat had precipitated the crisis in the alliance.