The Shiv Sena would contest around 60 seats against its alliance partner, the BJP, in the next month's Assembly polls in Karnataka, party MP Sanjay Raut said here today.
Earlier, the Sena had fielded candidates against the BJP in the elections held in Goa, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat last year.
"Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had already announced that our party is going to contest elections independently and as a part of it, we have decided to go solo in Karnataka as well. We will contest around 50-60 seats but will support the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES), which represents the Marathi people living in disputed areas between Maharashtra and Karnataka," he told reporters.
In a party resolution, Thackeray had announced that Sena would contest the 2019 Assembly and Lok Sabha elections on its own without a truck with the BJP. The Sena, the oldest member of the NDA, shares power with the BJP in the Union and Maharashtra governments.
Maharashtra has been demanding handing over of Belgaum, Karvar and around 800 villages and hamlets currently in Karnataka, claiming that they are dominated by Martahi-speaking people.
The issue, festering since 1960 when the Centre adopted Linguistic Policy for formation of states, is pending before the supreme court.
Raut also appealed to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis not to campaign for the BJP in the disputed areas in Karnataka. "In every speech given by Maharashtra governor, the state government mentioned resolving the issue with Karnataka.
If Fadnavis campaigns in this disputed area for the BJP, it would send a wrong message in Maharashtra as this act would be perceived contradictory to the official stance of the state government on the pending issue," he said. Raut had recently demanded Belgaum and other border areas be declared as a Union Territory.
However, his comments did not go down well with a section of people who filed a police complaint against him. Referring to the controversy, the Rajya Sabha MP said, "I was talking in the interest of 20 lakh Marathi people who reside there".
Appealing political parties from Maharashtra to press for resolution of the Belgaum issue, the Sena leader said he was not bothered about a police case against him.