The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena's support to the National Democratic Alliance's presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu has created a possibility of rapprochement with the Eknath Shinde faction as well as former ally Bharatiya Janata Party, political observers feel.
By breaking ranks with his Maha Vikas Aghadi allies, Thackeray has shown that he can leave the MVA altogether, said a Mumbai-based political leader.
''Support to Murmu keeps the door open for a future reconciliation and rapprochement,” he said.
Thackeray fell out with the BJP over the Maharashtra chief minister's post after the 2019 Assembly elections.
But there are others who feel that Thackeray's support to Murmu was not so much an olive branch to the BJP as a decision forced by his party's MPs.
When majority of Sena MLAs led by Shinde rebelled against Thackeray's leadership last month, they claimed that they wanted revival of the "natural alliance" with the BJP.
After the Uddhav Thackeray government collapsed and Shinde became chief minister with the BJP's support, Sena MPs such as Rahul Shewale openly urged Thackeray to support the NDA candidate in the presidential election.
Murmu was anyway going to sail through in the July 18 face-off with Opposition's candidate Yashwant Sinha given the BJP's strength in Parliament and state assemblies, said another political leader, adding that nothing much should be read into Thackeray's decision.
"The Sena had taken a different stand at times even when it was an ally of the BJP and the latter was in power at the centre," he pointed out.
On Sunday, NCP president Sharad Pawar had said he wanted the three MVA partners -- Thackeray-led Sena, NCP and Congress -- to contest all elections together, but on Wednesday he said the NCP will fight the Mumbai civic polls actively and called on his party workers to strengthen NCP in the city, this politician pointed out.
Ratnakar Mahajan, a senior Congress leader from Maharashtra, told PTI that he wasn't surprised by the Shiv Sena's decision.
'The 'Shiv Sena is competing with the BJP as to which is a more militant Hindutva party. The Shiv Sena has to prove that it is ahead of the BJP to retain its political base. Besides, the affinity between the two parties which were allies for over 30 years still exists,” he said.
The threat of central probe agencies is another factor, Mahajan said.
In this situation, the Congress has an opportunity to fill up the political space (if the Sena leaves the MVA), he said.
"The formation of MVA was a political and ideological mistake and its government would not have lasted a full term. I had said this on party forums earlier too,'' Mahajan said.