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October 14, 1999
Bal Thackeray's statement stuns Sena-BJP camp
The situation in the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party camp in Maharashtra remained confusing a day after Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's strongly worded statement calling off his party's plan to stake claim to form the government. Senior leaders of both the parties went into a huddle this morning trying to salvage the situation.
In a statement late last night, Thackeray had called off his party's efforts to form the next government in the state saying that his alliance partner, the BJP, was free to ally with any other party and form the government which he (Thackeray) would support from outside.
There was no indication as to what provoked Thackeray to issue this statement.
In Delhi the two Sena union ministers Suresh Prabhu and Manohar Joshi did not take charge of their respective ministries.
Frantic attempts by mediapersons to contact the Sena chief proved futile as they all got the same reply from 'Matoshree', his residence in Bombay: ''Saheb is out of station and will be back only after 2000 hours.''
Deputy Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde, who was in Delhi to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, rushed back to the city late last night and was meeting his senior party colleagues at his official residence 'Ramtek' to resolve the crisis.
Munde too refused to speak to mediapersons, though he was quoted by party spokesperson Prakash Javdekar as saying that the alliance was intact and the BJP had no problems with the Sena's Narayan Rane retaining the chief minister's post.
''If the Sena wants to sit in the opposition, we are prepared. But we will be together,'' Munde told a private television channel early this morning.
As the deadlock continued, there was no news about the BJP trouble-shooter and newly sworn in Union Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources Minister Pramod Mahajan coming to town to meet the Sena chief.
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