The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena may contest on 24 seats each in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, sources said on Monday. The formula was proposed by the saffron party before its Maharashtra ally. Earlier during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had fought on 26 seats and had won 24. The Shiv Sena, however, had fought on 22 seats and had won 18.
Meanwhile, the Thackeray-led party on Monday said it is the ‘big brother’ in the alliance with the BJP in Maharashtra and will remain so.
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"Shiv Sena is the big brother (in the alliance with BJP and other parties) in Maharashtra and will continue to be so," Raut asserted.
"There is no proposal from the BJP to form any alliance with the Shiv Sena. Those who wish to forge an alliance with us are talking about it. We are not waiting for any proposal to be offered to us," he added.
Reacting to Shiv Sena's assertion, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the BJP does want an alliance with the Sena but was not desperate for a tie-up.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting chaired by party chief Uddhav Thackeray, the Sena's Rajya Sabha MP and chief whip in Parliament, Sanjay Raut, said the party also wanted the income tax exemption threshold to be raised from the existing Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 8 lakh.
Till 2014, the BJP and Sena, allies for long, had an understanding under which the former would contest a larger share of Lok Sabha seats and the latter would get a greater number of Maharashtra Assembly seats to fight.
In this way, both parties donned the role of elder and younger sibling in the general and state polls in their political "brotherhood".
The 2014 Assembly polls, however, ended this "sibling" agreement as the BJP, on the back of a strong Narendra Modi wave and contesting alone, won 122 seats against the Sena's 63 in Maharashtra.
The BJP went on form a government in the state under Devendra Fadnavis and the Sena had to contend being the junior partner.
In the Lok Sabha, 18 Shiv Sena MPs were elected from Maharashtra out of 48 seats while the BJP won in 23 seats.
Fadnavis reacted to Sena's assertion while addressing the valedictory event of a day-long meeting of the state working committee of the BJP in Jalna.
"BJP does want an alliance with the Shiv Sena but we are not desperate for it. We want the alliance as custodians of Hindutva and a strong force against corruption," he said.
Several BJP ministers in the state have stated earlier that an alliance with the Shiv Sena, which has often been critical of the BJP-led government at the Centre, is needed to keep anti-Hindutva forces at bay.
The Sena had said last January that it would go it alone in all future elections.
At the meeting held at Thackeray's Matoshree residence in Bandra with party MLAs and MPs in attendance, the Sena also took some other key decisions.
"Uddhav Thackeray has demanded that the income tax (exemption) threshold be raised from existing Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 8 lakh," Raut said.
"The Union government has already decided to offer reservation to economically weaker sections (in the general category) having annual income up to Rs 8 lakh. Then they (people) should also get relief from income tax as well," he added.
Thackeray also discussed the drought situation and farm distress in the state, Raut said.
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