Amid a bitter tussle between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party over sharing of power in Maharashtra, Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Thursday met Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar in Mumbai, triggering speculation about the possible formation of an alternative government in the state.
"I had come to wish him on the occasion of Diwali. We also discussed the politics in Maharashtra," Raut said, according to news agency ANI.
Raut met Pawar at the latter's residence in south Mumbai, sources in the Sena said.
What transpired between the two leaders was not immediately known, but it sparked speculation about efforts being made for possible formation of a non-BJP government in the state.
The BJP and the Sena are locked in a tug-of-war over the latter's demand for rotational chief ministership.
Though the BJP emerged as the single largest party by winning 105 seats, it lost 17 seats compared to the 2014 tally.
The Sena emerged victorious on 56 seats compared to previous 63.
The NCP has won on 54 seats followed by the Congress (44).
Raut had also met Pawar on the day of results (October 24), but maintained that it was a "private" meeting.
Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has been claiming that arrangement for the rotational post of the CM was agreed upon during a formula discussed by himself, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and BJP chief Amit Shah ahead of the 2019 polls.
However, the BJP has categorically denied agreeing to any such arrangement and has been insisting that Fadnavis will continue to hold the chief minister's post for the next five years.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders Balasaheb Thorat, Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday flew to Delhi to meet party chief Sonia Gandhi amid talks in state political circle about possibility of the Shiv Sena forming
government in Maharashtra backed by opposition parties.
Earlier in the day, the three Maharashtra Congress leaders met Sharad Pawar at the latter's residence.
"The leaders are in Delhi for a meeting with the party president (Gandhi)," sources in the Congress said.
They said the meeting is taking place after Pawar told the troika in the morning that they should speak to the Congress high command on the current situation and take approval on the steps to be taken.