Shiv Sena denies fielding candidates against Modi in Uttar Pradesh
The Shiv Sena on Friday denied that it plans to field candidates against BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and party president Rajnath Singh in Uttar Pradesh.
Reportedly, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut was quoted as saying that his party will announce candidates for general elections from Uttar Pradesh, including for Varanasi and Lucknow.
Modi is contesting from the Varanasi constituency, while Rajnath Singh is contesting from Lucknow.
However, Raut, later, said his party will not fight against Modi and Singh.
"Whosoever has said this, is completely wrong. We have just made an announcement that outside Maharashtra, Shiv Sena will fight elections. Why will it not fight? Shiv Sena is a big party and it has its own ideology, we have the strength. In Maharashtra, it is right that we are in an alliance with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but that does not mean that we cannot fight the elections outside the state. In Uttar Pradesh we will fight for 20 seats, in Bihar we will fight for five seats, in Punjab two to three, in Kerala two to three, in Delhi four to five, so we will fight and our party has the right to do so," said Raut.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Tariq Anwar said this announcement indicated tensions between the two allies.
"This is their internal matter and they are in alliance with NDA (National Democratic Alliance) and I think Shiv Sena also does not want to see Bharatiya Janata Party as the only strong party that is why in Uttar Pradesh and in Delhi they are creating a wall. This clearly shows that the support that both parties should have is not there," said Anwar.
Earlier this month, the Shiv Sena had even lashed out at the BJP saying it does not know how to deal with its allies.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said Raut's announcement was not surprising and was pre-planned and known by all.
Swamy said: "I think it was always understood that the NDA will work only in those states where there is an agreement. Now in Maharashtra there is an agreement so they will not fight with each other. If the Shiv Sena thinks that it has got strength elsewhere they are perfectly entitled."
When asked whether this will affect Modi's aspirations, he said: "No, Narendra Modi has his own independent wave but you know what happens is Shiv Sena may have, there will be many voters who will think that BJP is a more moderate party as far as Hindutva is concerned and they may not want to vote for BJP so rather than voting for Congress they may vote for Shiv Sena."
A clutch of regional parties have been meeting to discuss plans to form an alliance before national elections, which will start on April 7.
India is set to hold the world's biggest elections with majority of voters, experts, and key players citing economic growth, clean governance and women's safety as key issues in a vote that would decide the fate of over 1.2 billion people.
The general elections will be held in nine stages staggered between April 7 and May 12.
Already, 814 million people have registered to vote - a number exceeding the population of Europe and a world record.
Results of the mammoth exercise are due on May 16.
(Posted on 22-03-2014)