Shiv Sena seals deal with Congress to tick BJP off

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Mumbai: A day after it lambasted the BJP’s growing closeness with the NCP, the Shiv Sena on Thursday struck a deal with the Congress to corner its saffron partner.

In the backdrop of the BJP announcing its decision to abstain from the election to be held on Friday to select Chairman of the Legislative Council, the Sena and the Congress are likely to withdraw their nominees and support independent candidate Shrikant Deshpande, who would take on NCP’s Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar.

Congress’ Sharad Ranpise and Sena’s Neelam Gorhe had filed nominations for the post.

A senior Congress leader claimed that Deshpande has the support of 34 legislators in the 78-member House. On the other hand, the NCP too has claimed support of an equal number of candidates.

“If the BJP abstains from the election, it will be a close contest. However, if the BJP votes in favour of Nimbalkar, he will be elected to the post. This will, however, prove that the BJP has a tacit understanding with the NCP,” he said.

Shiv Sena leader Ramdas Kaadm said if the BJP boycotted the polls it was a sign of clandestine ties with the NCP.

“Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has assured us that the BJP will remain abstain. Why can’t they vote against the NCP if they really don’t have a secret deal?” Kadam asked.

The BJP has, however, not yet opened its cards.

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