AAP loses potential ally in Maharashtra, Raju Shetty joins BJP-Sena

Mumbai: The plans of the Shiv Sena-BJP-led opposition alliance to rope in smaller political groups to take on the ruling Congress-NCP combine in the forthcoming polls got a boost today with the Swabhimaani Shetkari Sanghatana, led by Lok Sabha member Raju Shetty, joining the fold.

The development is also considered a setback for the plans of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which had been reportedly toying with using the Shetty-led organisation's clout in rural areas of the state, specially in western Maharashtra.

Reacting to Shetty's decision, AAP leader Mayank Gandhi said, "Shetty was apparently pressurising the Sena-BJP-RPI alliance by indicating that he was in parleys with us. We do not subscribe to such tactics."

The Sanghatana's decision came after a meeting between the MP, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, BJP leader Gopinath Munde and RPI leader Ramdas Athawale, at Uddhav's residence in suburban Bandra today.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Reacting to the development, Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raghunath Patil said, "Shetty is not a farmers' leader. He became Lok Sabha member by coincidence."

It is not clear how many seats Shetty's organisation would be allocated in the "Mahayuti" (grand alliance) comprising Sena, BJP and RPI (A). In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Sena had contested 26 seats and BJP 22 of total 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

However, this time around, RPI and Shetty's outfit will also be in the fray from some seats, as part of the grand opposition alliance.

PTI