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'Big Brother' Shiv Sena Signals Alliance Still On, But Wants BJP to Sweeten Deal With 50-50 Seat Sharing

File photo of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. (PTI)

File photo of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. (PTI)

The Shiv Sena met on Friday to firm up its strategy for the coming Lok Sabha election.

New Delhi: The Shiv Sena, the BJP’s difficult ally both in Maharashtra and at the Centre, met on Friday to firm up its strategy for the coming Lok Sabha election.

Post the meeting, senior party leader Sanjay Raut said, "We are the big brother in Maharashtra, we were the big brother and will stay the big brother".

Raut said that the drought situation in the state, the Rafale issue and the 10 percent quota for the economically weaker sections (EWS) also came up for discussion. The NDA government recently passed a bill where in 10 percent reservation will be provided in education and jobs to those whose annual income is less than Rs 8 lakh per annum. The Shiv Sena has already supported Congress’s demand for a joint parliamentary probe into the Rafale issue.

“We discussed Rafale, issue of drought in Maharashtra. On the 10% EWS quota to General Category Udhav Thackrey Ji said that people with annual income of 8 lakh must be exempted from paying Income Tax. Since you have labelled them poor, they must be exempted,” said Raut.

However, there seems to be no consensus on the number of seats that the two allies might contest on in the general election. But he also did not say that the party will fight the coming elections on its own.

“We have no information about it, you (media) people know more. We don't have such proposal, and we're not sitting here to accept such a proposal. We reiterate the Shiv Sena will play the role of a big brother,” Raut said.

Moreover, he declared that the Sena was in possession of some more information on Rafale deal, and that the party will disclose it soon. The Sena has also hinted that it is open to an alliance, but on its own terms and conditions. And the most important condition is to be treated like the elder brother, something the BJP is acutely uncomfortable about. Political pundits in Maharashtra believe that the Shiv Sena's statement on being the big brother, indicates its willingness for an alliance with the BJP.

The Sena expects a 50-50 seat division, and the CM seat irrespective of the number of seats it wins. The BJP might be open to splitting the CM position. As of now, the BJP is willing for 50-50 seat distribution. It is also readying itself, if the Sena insists on holding the Lok Sabha and the Vidhan Sabha elections together.

"Devendra Fadnavis is not very keen on this. He would like the state government to complete its full tenure," top sources in BJP told News18.

Meanwhile, speaking at the State Executive meeting at Jalna today, Fadnavis said that the BJP wasn't helpless.

On January 25, senior BJP leader and Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil is reported to have said that an alliance between his party and the Shiv Sena will be announced anytime.

Patil told reporters that the alliance between the parties is very strong and it has survived numerous tests in the last four years.

Patil's statement comes in the backdrop of a meeting between Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.

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The Sena, however, has been repeatedly claiming it will go alone in the polls. The BJP, despite persistent attacks by the Sena, has maintained that the parties will come together.

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