There would be no further talks for alliance with the Shiv Sena for the 2019 Lok Sabha and Maharashtra polls until it takes an initiative, senior BJP leader and state minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has said.
Mungantiwar, who has been instrumental in trying to get the Sena on board for the forthcoming elections, said the BJP, has made overtures but there has been no response from the Uddhav Thackeray-led party.
“We have always wanted that the BJP and the Shiv Sena fight all polls unitedly. However, there has been no response from our ally. Hence, we have now decided to stop the alliance talks from our end until the Sena takes the first step,” the finance and planning minister told PTI.
In January this year, the Shiv Sena, a constituent of the Central and Maharashtra governments, had said it would not align with the BJP and go solo in the 2019 Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly polls.
The bickering ally had then declared that it had so far not contested elections outside the state to keep the Hindu vote together, but that would no longer be the case.
However, during the BJP’s Foundation Day rally on April 6, party president Amit Shah said he sincerely hoped the Sena and the BJP would be together.
Last month, a meeting between Mungantiwar and Thackeray failed to materialise twice as the latter was reportedly busy with other issues concerning the Sena.
Notably, the two parties have not tied-up for the by-elections scheduled on May 28 for two Lok Sabha seats and one Assembly constituency in Maharashtra.
“If the Sena initiates talks, we are open to an alliance. If it does not, we are completely ready to go into polls alone,” Mungantiwar asserted.
“After our attempts to hold talks, the Sena has to now decide whether it wants to fight with us or against us,” he stated.
He said the BJP believes that the Congress and the NCP cannot be allowed to come back to power after 15 years of “corruption and misrule.”.
“We do not want division of votes, though people know the BJP stands only for development,” the minister said, and exuded confidence that “if there is no initiation (of talks) from the Sena soon, the BJP will get a majority and come back to power.”
He said the “mis-governance” under the Congress-NCP rule had put other states ahead of Maharashtra in terms of growth.
However, under the leadership of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, there has been a three-fold increase in Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in the state in 2017, as compared to 2014, he claimed.
The state had the maximum agricultural production during the kharif season of 2017-18, despite 30 per cent less rainfall, due to effective water conservation schemes of the state government, said the minister, who also holds the forest portfolio.