Break-up a formality: Shiv Sena to skip NDA meet on Nov 17

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Sena accused BJP of having intentions to indulge in horse-trading in the state

MUMBAI, Nov 16 (AGENCIES): The Shiv Sena will not attend the Sunday meeting of NDA constituents in Delhi on the eve of the winter session of Parliament beginning on November 18. Speaking to reporters here, senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut also said that the Uddhav Thackeray-led party walking out of the BJP-headed National Democratic Alliance (NDA) remains a formality now. In a sharp jibe at its estranged ally-turned-foe, the BJP, Raut said the NDA was not somebody’s property.

“The Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal were equally important founders of the alliance,” he added.

The Shiv Sena, a long-standing constituent of the NDA, fell out with the BJP over sharing the chief ministerial post, a few days after the results of the Maharashtra assembly polls were announced on October 24.

The echo of the worsening relationship between the two parties reverberated at the national level too, with the Sena’s lone minister in the Modi government, Arvind Sawant, resigning on November 11.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had set pre-conditions that Sawant resign and the saffron party walk out of the NDA bloc if it wants support of the Sharad Pawar- led party in forming government.

“I have learnt that the meeting (of NDA constituents) is being held on November 17. We had already decided against attending the meeting considering the kind of developments that are taking place in Maharashtra…our minister resigning from the Central government,” Raut said. The Sena leader further said he had learnt that his party had not received an invitation to attend the NDA meet.

“It is alright, if it has not been sent. We had already decided (against attending the meeting),” Raut said. Without naming anyone, Raut said nobody can claim “ownership rights” on the NDA.

“NDA is not somebody’s property. Bal Thackeray (late Shiv Sena founder) and Akali Dal are equally important founders of the NDA,” he said.

Asked whether only a formal announcement of the Sena walking out of the NDA remains pending now, Raut said, “You can say that. There is no problem in saying that”. The Rajya Sabha MP exuded confidence that the Sena will install its mayors in the Mumbai and Thane civic bodies in upcoming Mayoral elections.

“It won’t be surprising if the Sena installs its mayor in some other civic body too,” he added.

Raut also said the Sena, the NCP and the Congress have reached consensus on the Common Minimum Programme (CMP), the foundation of the proposed alliance government, in Maharashtra itself and there was no need to discuss it in Delhi.

Another Sena MP said the party will pay tribute to Bal Thackeray on Sunday the November 17 which is the death anniversary of the party founder Bal Thackeray.

“How come then will we be able to attend that (NDA) meeting?” the MP asked. The Sena’s refusal to support its pre-poll ally, the BJP, in forming a government precipitated into a political crisis, which culminated in the imposition of President’s Rule on November 12.

The Sena, which won 56 seats in the October 21 elections, is the second largest bloc in the 288-member Assembly after the BJP which won the maximum 105 seats. The bone of contention between the two saffron parties was the Sena’s insistence for a rotational chief ministership and equal allocation of portfolios, which the BJP outrightly rejected. The NCP and the Congress had won 54 and 44 seats, respectively, in the assembly polls. The combined strength of the Sena, the NCP and the Congress in the 288-member House comes at 154. The halfway mark is 145.

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