Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Monday upped the ante against ally Bharatiya Janata Party, saying his party should not be compelled to look for an alternative to form the next government in Maharashtra and asserted there are 'no saints in politics'.
The BJP and the Sena, with 105 and 56 seats, respectively, in the new Assembly, are locked in a bitter tussle over sharing of power.
Ever since the results were announced on October 24, there have been statements from sections in the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party, though not officially, hinting that a move by the Sena to look beyond the BJP for government formation may get positive feelers.
Speaking to a news channel, Raut said, "We believe in the alliance (with BJP) as we contested the polls jointly. But the BJP should not compel us to commit the sin of looking for an alternative for government formation."
"No one is a saint in politics," he added, possibly a hint to the senior ally that committing such a 'sin' was not entirely unfathomable for the Sena.
Raut claimed the two parties had agreed on an 'equal power' sharing formula and had even made an announcement on it in Mumbai.
"Ahead of the assembly polls, the BJP requested Sena for more share of seats because of large number of turncoats.
"Sena chief (Uddhav) Thackeray agreed to it, hence they contested on 164 seats and the Sena on 124," Raut explained, adding, "We never lie in politics, even if it is for gaining power".
Queried on a scenario where the BJP goes ahead alone and stakes claim to form the government, he said, "The BJP is the single largest party at present in the state. If they can provide a majority government without the Sena's help, I welcome it."
Hardening stand on equal division of the chief ministerial tenure, Raut said, "We will see how they do not share the post of chief minister. Both the parties agreed on 50:50 power-sharing formula. There is no need to explain it in detail."
Raut claimed there has been no discussion so far between the BJP and Sena on government formation.
Raut is the chief whip of the party in Parliament and executive editor of Sena mouthpiece Saamana.
'BJP-led govt in Maha soon'
Amid Shiv Sena's demand for the post of chief minister, the BJP on Monday said that Maharashtra will soon get a BJP-led government and asserted that the assembly election results in the state are an endorsement of public support for its dispensation.
BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao noted that the BJP has emerged as the single largest party 'by a wide margin' with its tally of seats being more than the combined total of the opposition alliance of the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party.
"With this public support, Maharashtra will soon get a BJP-led state government that will last a full five term and fulfil people's aspirations. Maharashtra results are an endorsement of public support for a BJP-led government," he told PTI.
Asked about Sena's demand for an equal division of power with many of its leaders seeking the post of chief minister for the party, Rao said the BJP leadership has taken note of their statements and will respond to them appropriately.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is from the BJP, and Shiv Sena leader Diwakar Raote on Monday met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari separately amid the ongoing tussle between the ruling alliance partners over forming the next state government.