Shiv Sena and BJP on Sunday appeared to be on the verge of parting ways in the wake of spat over Cabinet expansion at the Centre and failure to accommodate the Sena in Maharashtra government in Mumbai.
Sena MP Anil Desai not taking oath as Union Minister today and the induction of Suresh Prabhu, who had been in the Shiv Sena as Cabinet Minister, came as a climax to the growing chasm between the friends-turned-foes.
Desai, who was rushed to the national capital to reach here in time for the swearing-in, went back from the Delhi airport itself, apparently due to failure of BJP to address Sena’s demands for ministerial berths in Maharashtra.
Desai returned to Mumbai on orders of Sena supremo Uddhav Thackaray whose party accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi as also the BJP of a host of broken promises and heaping “humiliation after humiliation” on it.
How much more humiliation we can take?” remarked senior Sena MP Chandrakant Khaire, who had accompanied Desai to Delhi when he rushed to the National Capital for taking oath.
The talk that Uddhav Thackeray will pull the party out of the government at the Centre and play Opposition in Maharashtra has gained ground ahead of a crucial meeting in Mumbai of the Sena chief with party legislators.
“As things stand now, there is remote possibility of Sena being part of NDA or of the BJP government in Maharashtra,” a senior Sena leader said.
What added fuel to the fire was the induction of Suresh Prabhu as Cabinet Minister as Prabhu had been with the Sena.
“Shiv Sena is angry. Whether it is PM or Amit Shah, they had no business to take Suresh Prabhu’s name (as Shiv Sena representative for the Cabinet post)”, said Khaire.
Sena sources said that the party chief has convened a meeting in Mumbai this evening which could decide to play the role of opposition in Maharashtra and that he could direct Anant Geete, party’s lone representative in the Narendra Modi Cabinet, to resign.
Sena wanted the BJP to sort out unresolved issues over it joining the Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra first.
The Sena Chief has demanded that his party should be inducted into the Fadanvis government before it faces the trust vote.
“The picture will be clear tomorrow after meeting of Sena legislators,” Uddhav had told reporters last night.
Thackeray’s meeting in Mumbai this evening is significant as party legislators are attending it on the eve of the Maharashtra Assembly session in which the BJP government will seek trust vote.
Sena sources have already cautioned the BJP that if it is going to align with Sharad Pawar’s NCP for the trust vote in Maharashtra, then Sena is free to take its own decision.
Shiv Sena has been the oldest ideological ally of the BJP in the NDA but their 25-year-old alliance in Maharashtra collapsed ahead of the recent assembly polls over seat-sharing issue.