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LS polls: BJP to contest on 25 seats, Sena settles for 23 in Maharashtra

After a strained relationship for four years, both parties decide to seal the alliance ahead of the elections

LS polls: BJP to contest on 25 seats, Sena settles for 23 in Maharashtra

Mumbai: After a strained relationship for four years, the Shiv Sena and BJP on Monday decided to seal the alliance in Maharashtra ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. While the saffron party will contest 25 seats, Shiv Sena will fight in 23 constituencies. Maharashtra has 48 Lok Sabha seats.

BJP chief Amit Shah and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis arrived at Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray's residence in Mumbai for talks following which Fadnavis made the formal announcement.

"The Shiv Sena and the BJP have been partners for the past 25 years. There have been some differences in the past. Both the parties are ideologically committed to Hindutva and this is the reason we have come together. In a country where some parties are coming together to cause confusion and challenge the nationalist thought, it is necessary for nationalist parties to come together. We have thereby decided to come together for both the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections," Fadnavis told reporters.

On the seat-sharing for the Assembly polls, Fadnavis said an announcement will be held later after holding talks with the allies. "After allotting the requisite seats to the other allies, both the parties will fight an equal number of seats in the Assembly elections," Fadnavis said.

"Our hearts have always been together. We are making a fresh start today and I believe all Hindu voters will rejoice today. The two parties will now move forward together with a clean heart," Thackeray said.

Reiterating the demand for early construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, the Shiv Sena leader said, "The Ram Temple has been the common thread for an alliance between the BJP and the Shiv Sena; it has to be built at the earliest."

Expressing confidence over winning the polls, Shah said, "I am confident that in the Lok Sabha elections, BJP and Shiv Sena will together win 45 out of total 48 seats in Maharashtra."

He added, "Crores of workers of BJP and Shiv Sena wanted the alliance between the two parties. The Sena is the oldest ally of BJP."

After landing in the city from Jaipur, Shah held a meeting with senior BJP leaders and later drove to Matoshree, Thackeray's residence in suburban Bandra.

Despite being partners at the Centre and in the state, the Thackeray-led party last year had decided to go solo in future elections. However, today's announcement only shows how the two parties require one another for political strength.

An analysis of the electoral performance of the two parties ever since they joined hands in the late 80s shows that the alliance helped the Shiv Sena feed of the BJP's popularity to gain grounds in national politics.

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