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Post-Prez poll, what next for Sena-BJP
July 21, 2007 19:26 IST
The two-decade long saffron alliance in Maharashtra seemed inching towards a break-up on Saturday with the state BJP leadership giving clear indications that the Shiv Sena's support to UPA President candidate Pratibha Patil virtually sealed the fate of the combine.
While Maharashtra BJP President Nitin Gadkari said that battle lines had been drawn for the next assembly elections in 2009 with the party determined to contest all the 288 seats on its own, party's national general secretary Gopinath Munde told mediapersons "a final review of the alliance will be taken at an official meeting of the state unit to be convened shortly".
Earlier, addressing a meeting of party office bearers from Mumbai, Konkan and Western Maharashtra here, Gadkari asked the party functionaries to work out a strategy to recapture power in Maharashtra on its own strength by emerging the main viable alternative to ruling Congress-NCP coalition in the state.
The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance was in power in the state from 1995-1999.
Though Munde maintained that today's meeting of party office bearers had not been held to decide future of the alliance, he himself called out to the gathering with a poser "can you accept an ally (Shiv Sena) supporting Presidential nominee of the Congress and declaring its backing for NCP chief Sharad Pawar [Images] to become Prime Minister?"
Munde's query evoked the cries of 'break the alliance' from assembled party delegates in a packed hall. BJP leaders from Maharashtra Ram Naik, Jaywantiben Mehta and Kirit Somayya were among those present on the dais.
"It is time to know your friends and foes when we gear up to take on corrupt Congress-NCP coalition in the next elections," Munde said, adding the party was prepared to go it alone.
A few days ago, Munde had described Sena as a past ally, expressing displeasure over the former's backing to Pratibha Patil. A huge portrait of late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, considered chief architect of the saffron alliance in the state, hung over the dais even as Poonam Rao, his daughter, sat amongst the party leaders.
When his attention was drawn to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray's comment that BJP was destined to compromise with Shiv Sena for its own political survival in the state, Munde retorted "we do not make our decisions in consultations with MNS and Raj Thackeray who himself underwent torture in the Sena." The BJP leaders also announced a `Jail Bharo' agitation to focus on a "corrupt and non-performing" Congress-NCP rule in Maharashtra on August 9 to coincide with the day marking Quit India movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi [Images] to oust the British.