SSS joins NDA, threat to NCP

The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) joined the Shiv Sena-BJP-RPI alliance Tuesday, throwing a major challenge at the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on its home turf in the sugar belt of Western Maharashtra. The aggressive organisation of farmers has been offered two Lok Sabha seats Madha in Solapur the constituency of NCP president Sharad Pawar and Hathkanangale, from where SSS chief Raju Shetti won in 2009. Shetti had also sought Baramati but the demand was rejected by the Shiv Sena and BJP. The Sena and BJP decided to leave a seat each from their quotas of 22 and 26 to accommodate SSS.

State BJP president Devendra Fadnavis, who floated the concept of Maharashtra Democratic Alliance to expand Sena-BJP reach, said, "Pro-people forces with a common goal are joining hands to dislodge the anti-people government in Maharashtra." The grand alliance is gearing up for battles against the NCP in Madha, Baramati, Satara, Kolhapur, Hathkanangale, Ahmednagar, Shirur and Maval.

Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Vinod Tawde of the BJP said, "SSS will help us consolidate in at least 18 constituencies in Western Maharashtra in the September Assembly elections."

Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said, "Like-minded parties coming together will help defeat the ruling Congress-NCP."

Senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde helped formalise the grand alliance thwarting an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) attempt to get the SSS into its fold. He organised a series of meetings between Shetti and BJP leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj. In the state, Uddhav Thackeray and he held seat-sharing talks with Shetti and decided to leave 8 to 10 Assembly seats for the SSS.

"AAP was in touch with SSS. But their decision to join hands with the Congress in Delhi was unacceptable. Congress-NCP are responsible for the farmer crisis." Shetti said.

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