Newly-elected Shiv Sena MLAs met at the Sena Bhavan ahead of Monday’s Maharashtra Assembly’s session to discuss its strategy after it decided to skip Narendra Modi’s Cabinet expansion in the capital on Sunday.
“Don’t want Hindutva votes to divide, hence I am taking a soft stance. If in the next 2-3 days we don’t get an answer from BJP then we will sit in Opposition,” said Uddhav.
That could have detonated the ending of the Shiv Sena’s alliance with the ruling BJP, but at a press conference this evening, Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray refused to call it. “It is up to the BJP to decide…if they take any support from the NCP, we will not stand with them,” he said, referring to Sharad Pawar’s party which has offered to back the BJP’s minority government in Maharashtra, a move that has greatly diminished the power of the Shiv Sena.
Thackeray alleged that NCP supremo Sharad Pawar was instrumental in the fall of NDA government in 1996. “Unfortunately, the BJP is seeking support from same Sharad Pawar,” he rued.
Thackeray said that they will not support BJP if they talked about splitting Maharashtra or taking away Mumbai from Maharashtra.
On Wednesday, the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis must take a trust vote to determine if he will remain chief minister. “We will not hesitate to vote against them if the BJP and NCP combine,” Mr. Thackeray threatened, while stating that the Shiv Sena will then serve as the opposition in the state.
In a clear sign that he is willing to continue the negotiations that have spanned weeks, Mr. Thackeray said he has not yet decided whether his party will exit the PM’s coalition government by pulling out its lone minister – Anant Geete.
“We are not a slave to power,” Mr. Thackeray said, citing his refusal to accept the BJP’s offer today to induct his party’s Anil Desai as a junior minister at the Centre.
Mr. Thackeray had asked for his party to be added to the Maharashtra government when BJP ministers led by Mr. Fadnavis took their oath 10 days ago; that did not happen. His revised deadline – of Shiv Sena ministers being sworn in before the trust vote on Wednesday was also rejected. Then he was told that Mr. Desai, who he had nominated for his party’s “quota” in the union cabinet, would be ranked as a junior minister.
In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena was informed, it would not get the post of Deputy Chief Minister or an important portfolio like Home or Finance.