Hardening its stand against the Shiv Sena leadership, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said that negotiations on seat-sharing for the coming Lok Sabha elections could not begin unless statements made by a Sena leader that his party would back Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar for the prime ministerial post are publicly retracted by senior Sena leaders.
The terse message was sent to the Sena after senior BJP leaders -- national general secretary Gopinath Munde, state unit president Nitin Gadkari and general secretary Viond Tavde met on Friday.
The out-of-turn comments by Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut, a close confidant of the party's working president Uddhav Thackeray, about the party's support to Pawar and who would contest the four disputed seats angered the BJP. Gadkari issued an ultimatum, saying that under such circumstances the alliance could not continue.
Since then the Sena leadership have been making frantic calls to the BJP asking the latter to sort out the issue with the intervention of senior BJP leader LK Advani, the NDA's prime ministerial choice.
"However, we have decided that no face-saving will be given to the Sena this time. This is a local issue and it should be sorted out at the local level, and not in Delhi," a senior BJP leader said.