Neena Vyas

NEW DELHI: The Chimur Assembly poll in Maharashtra could become a test case leading to a re-negotiation of electoral seat division between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena.

Although the Sena held Chimur, the BJP has more or less made up its mind on contesting the seat.

The issue has become so serious that unofficially the Sena leadership is threatening to snap ties with the BJP. However, BJP leaders dismiss the threat as posturing.

The BJP is aware that the Sena is no more the political force it was when the party first aligned with it to fight the Maharashtra Assembly polls in 1990. The Sena has virtually split with its chief Bal Thackeray's nephew Raj Thackeray forming a separate outfit, the Maharashtra Nav Nirman Sena. Some influential MLAs have over the years crossed over to the Congress or the Nationalist Congress Party, compounding the Sena's woes.

Likely candidate

The Chimur seat was vacated by Vijaya Vadettiwar, who followed his political guru Narayan Rane into the Congress. BJP leaders argue that with Mr. Vadettiwar likely to be the Congress candidate, the Sena has no one who could win against him. "The Sena has no chance of winning the seat and we will ask it to concede the seat to us. If the Sena insists on keeping the seat, the BJP could go ahead and contest it too," a party leader said.

The BJP has found a candidate in Ramesh Gajbe, who contested the seat earlier as Independent and has now joined the BJP.