The frayed relationship between saffron allies -- the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena -- on Monday came under fresh strain with the latter saying it will soon decide on whether to continue in the two-party coalition government in Maharashtra.
After a meeting of senior party functionaries, MPs and legislators called by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, its Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut castigated the BJP-led governments in Maharashtra and at the Centre, and said the party was "very close" to taking a decision on its continuance in government.
"We are very close to taking a decision (on whether to continue in the government)... wait and watch. There is tremendous resentment among the people in Maharashtra and across the country.
"There are various issues people are facing due to inefficiency of the government. The Shiv Sena does not want to be a part of all this," Raut told journalists.
While he castigated both the Devendra Fadnavis dispensation in Maharashtra and the Modi government at the Centre, he only spoke about giving an ultimatum to the former before taking a call on whether or not to continue being part of it.
"Uddhavji will give an ultimatum to the chief minister and then take a decision (on continuing in the government)," Raut said.
Shiv Sena has 12 ministers in the Fadnavis government, including five of the Cabinet rank. Maharashtra has a 39-member council of ministers. The BJP's oldest saffron ally has just one minister in the Modi Cabinet and has often voiced its unhappiness over it.
The development came on a day when Maharashtra's former chief minister Narayan Rane blasted the Congress for the "injustice" it has done to him and his supporters, and hinted at quitting the party he had joined 12 years ago. There has been speculation in the state's political circles that Rane may be on way to joining the BJP.
Rane, a tough-talking politician who has a support base in the Konkan region, was handpicked by Bal Thackeray as chief minister ahead of the 2000 assembly election, replacing the genial Manohar Joshi.
However, Rane quit the Sena and joined the Congress in 2005. The Shiv Sena continues to feel bitter about it and has often accused Rane of "betraying" its founder.
Some in Maharashtra's political lounges see Raut's statement as an attempt to preempt his entry into the BJP.
Rane on Modnay said he would announce the decision of "going in a new direction" at a press conference on September 21.
"On September 21, we will take a decision of going in a new direction," Rane told his supporters at a rally in Kudal in Konkan region, without saying whether he would join the BJP.
The speculation about his joining BJP got triggered with reports that he had met BJP president Amit Shah in Ahmedabad a few months ago. During the recent Ganesh festival, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had visited Rane's residence, fuelling it further.
Raut, when asked about what transpired at the meeting, said the leaders put forward their views to Uddhav Thackeray on whether or not to continue in the government.
"Inflation has increased under the BJP regime and many questions of farmers remain unanswered. The decision on a (complete) loan waiver for farmers is also hanging fire.
"All this has caused immense resentment. The day when Uddhav Thackeray will take a final call about staying in the government will come very soon," he said.
The two saffron parties separately contested local bodies elections in Maharashtra, including Mumbai, the Sena's stronghold, since last year.
The two had parted ways just before the 2014 assembly polls following sharp differences over the number of seats each would contest.
They came together again after the elections which threw up a hung Assembly, with the BJP winning nearly double the number of seats clinched by the Sena. The BJP secured 122 seats against the Sena's 63 in the 288-member House.