Shiv Sena on Sunday threatened to sit in opposition in Maharashtra if ruling Bharatiya Janata Party dared to take support of Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party for the survival of its government but also kept the door open for reconciliation, saying it should come clear on the issue within two days.
“Shiv Sena won’t hanker for power at the cost of self-respect,” Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said at Sena Bhawan, after a meeting of party legislators.
“Had we been hungry for power, we would have accepted whatever came our way in today's (Union ministry) expansion,” he said.
“If we don’t get a satisfactory answer from BJP in next two days, we will sit in opposition,” Uddhav said, adding, “We feel Hindutva forces should not split. But Sharad Pawar has announced support to BJP. NCP leaders were the ones to visit the house of Ishrat Jahan (one of the victims of alleged 2004 fake encounter in Gujarat),” he said.
“It will be the misfortune of the state and country if BJP accepts NCP support,” he said.
“Hindutva powers should be united and if BJP wants to go with NCP, then our paths will be different,” Uddhav said.
“NCP Chief Sharad Pawar was the one who coined the term ‘saffron terror’. If BJP accepts his party’s support, we will prefer to sit in opposition and be with the people,” he said.
Asked about Sena MP Anil Desai going to Delhi on Sunday but returning without being sworn in, Uddhav said, “We had told them (BJP) that there cannot be two yardsticks, one for the Centre and other for state.”
“In the Centre you are taking us with you, but there was no clarity about our role in the state,” he said.
To a query on a reported meeting of Sena and NCP leaders recently, Uddhav said, “If I have to meet NCP leaders I will do so openly.”
On former Sena leader Suresh Prabhu, who was inducted in the central ministry, Uddhav said when Atal Bihari Vajpayee government first came to power, Bal Thackeray had named Prabhu as the party's first choice for ministerial post.
“Pawar had toppled the Vajpayee government and today it is Pawar whose company BJP wants,” Uddhav said.
The newly installed Devendra Fadnavis government is slated to prove its majority on floor of House in a special session beginning on Monday. BJP has 121 MLAs and needs support of 24 MLAs more to reach simple majority in the 288-member House.
“Forces which are dangerous for Hindus have raised their heads in recent Assembly polls,” Uddhav said, in an apparent reference to Hyderabad-based the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen, which won two seats in recently held Maharashtra assembly polls.
“At such a time, if BJP wants to go with Pawar who spoke of saffron terror, we will sit in opposition,” he said, adding, “I am free to take my party’s decision. I expect a response from BJP.”