Shiv Sena mum on PM Narendra Modi's Nashik rally amid seat-sharing talks for Maharashtra Assembly elections

Days after committing in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the saffron alliance is inevitable for the Assembly polls in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena and BJP are yet to announce an alliance.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally in Nashik on Thursday, September 19, Shiv Sena leaders stayed away from the event. Even known for its outspoken editorials, Shiv Sena's mouthpiece, didn't comment on PM Modi's Nashik rally. Which indicates that Shiv Sena is having its doubts about the alliance.

With reports are saying that Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray will be the next chief minister in the event of the NDA returning to power once again. Tensions between the Sena-BJP seems to rise. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, believed to be the blue-eyed boy of the BJP top brass, had repeatedly asserted that he would return as the CM of the "yuti" (NDA alliance). Political pundits are also saying that Devendra Fadnavis might give extra cabinet ministries to Shiv Sena in order to retain Chief Ministership.

As per reports, the Sena wants the BJP to adhere to the 50:50 formula, which means both the parties contesting equal number of seats--135 each. Of the total 288 seats, the BJP and the Sena have agreed to allocate 18 seats to smaller allies, but a formal deal is yet to be sealed.

However, poll managers of the BJP are arguing for more seats to accommodate leaders from Opposition parties and its "growing political might". Recently, Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil had indicated that his party might not settle for 135 seats as the saffron party wanted to accommodate rebels from other parties and in view of its growing footprint.

BJP and Shiv Sena contested 2014 state Assembly elections separately after they failed to arrive at a seat-sharing formula. After the BJP formed the government in October 2014, the Sena joined the ministry the same year.

The parties contested separately in the subsequent local body elections and the BJP dominated the local polls, winning 15 out of the 27 big city corporations in the state. The Sena retained control of Mumbai but managed to win just two more seats than the BJP in the city.

The Shiv Sena is also trying to corner the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over Aarey land, induction of leaders from the Indian National Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Ram temple issues. This comes amid talks of the BJP seeking more seats than the Uddhav Thackeray-led party for the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly election. The BJP, however, has said that the Sena needs to look at things practically in view of the Amit Shah-led party's vote share going up in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

With the BJP seemingly firm on contesting more seats, the Sena has been trying to put it in the dock by opposing the proposed tree felling in Aarey Colony here to make way for a Metro car shed. It also took a jibe at the BJP over its move to induct a number of Congress and NCP leaders, and also reiterated its demand for the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

All this has raised doubts, whether Shiv Sena and BJP will ally for the upcoming assembly elections or they will contest elections separately?

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