New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday favoured Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) of Raj Thackeray as part of a broad electoral coalition against the ruling Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra but said a decision would depend on the wishes of its partner Shiv Sena.
“We want to prevent division of votes in Maharashtra. It is an effort from our side. It will happen only if Shiv Sena agrees,” BJP leader Gopinath Munde said in response to queries about statements from some BJP leaders about a possible understanding with MNS.
“We are not leaving Shiv Sena. The two parties have been in an alliance for 22 years,” Munde said.
He said that MNS leader Raj Thackeray was earlier in Shiv Sena and his contesting separately had hurt the prospects of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in about 43 assembly seats.
Munde had last month suggested that MNS should be part of an alliance against the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party and the proposal was supported by BJP president Nitin Gadkari.
Gadkari said the MNS alliance with BJP-Shiv Sena will ensure more seats in the assembly.
However, he added that the issue was at an initial stage and it will be discussed in the BJP core committee meeting.
Shiv Sena has not reacted favourably to the BJP suggestion for including MNS in the alliance, saying its decisions were taken by party supremo Bal Thackeray. The party’s executive president has said the suggestion for including MNS in the alliance was not practical.
Raj Thackeray had paid a surprise visit to the BJP office in Mumbai last year raising many eyebrows.