Even though the dust still has to settle over the strain between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the latter’s overtures towards Raj Thackeray, Manharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) supremo, the allies are headed for another clash in the State legislative council polls. The election will be held on March 20.

Both parties have fielded two candidates each even though the combine has the numbers only to elect three. The Shiv Sena had fielded sitting MLC Neelam Gorhe and party spokesperson Rahul Narvekar. On Monday, the BJP fielded two of its own candidates, outgoing MLCs Vinod Tawde and Pandurang Phundkar. Mr. Tawde had earlier called on Mr. Raj Thackeray to seek the support of his party’s 12 MLAs for the poll.

When asked why the BJP had fielded two candidates despite the Shiv Sena’s nominees, Maharashtra BJP president Devendra Fadnavis said, “Two of our candidates were retiring, so we fielded two names. Only one Shiv Sena candidate was retiring and so they should have given one name. In any case, we will work to ensure the victory of all four candidates.”

“To split Marathi votes”

Meanwhile, a day after the MNS declared it would contest the elections and support Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for prime minister, the Shiv Sena accused him of acting on behalf of the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). “Raj Thackeray says he wants to support Mr. Modi but he is going to split the Marathi votes and benefit the Congress-NCP. That is his real game-plan,” said party leader Ms. Gorhe.

Shiv Sena threat
Does the BJP's scramble to mollify Uddhav underline coalition compulsions?
Don't know/Can't say