The bickering among the ruling partners in Maharashtra -- the BJP and Shiv Sena reached a new level on Monday when latter’s supremo Uddhav Thackeray predicted mid-term polls in the state.
"I see a mid-term election happening, the people seem ready," Uddhav told a private news channel.
Any decision on MLAs withdrawing their support, he said, will be taken after the completion of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls, which is slated for February 21.
"We will decide on withdrawing support (to the government) after the BMC election," he added.
The Sena, which shares power with the BJP in both Maharashtra and the Centre, is the second largest party in the 288-member state Assembly. It has 62 MLAs whereas the BJP has 122 legislators. Sena has 12 Minister’s in the state Cabinet.
The party is facing a tough competition from the BJP for control of the BMC which runs on 37,000 crores a year, making it the richest of its kind in Asia. The Sena had ruled the Mumbai’s civic body for 20 years with four consecutive terms.
Calling ‘Mumbai as his bastion’ Thackeray said: "I will not tolerate any slurs against it. Say what you like about me, but not our city."
Meanwhile, Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande has claimed that Ministers are only waiting for Thackeray's direction to submit their resignations from the Maharashtra government as ‘people are unhappy with the BJP rule’.
"The Sena is unhappy with the style of functioning of the Chief Minister (Devendra Fadnavis) and the way he conducts himself. The BJP today is left with no ammunition but to claim that BMC has opaque functioning. If their claims were true, why did they remain in power with us? Did they want to enjoy benefits of power?" she asked.
"If our ministers do not have a say in the Cabinet, they (the BJP) do not make Cabinet meetings transparent and do not change their arrogant style of functioning, all Sena ministers are ready to quit and are only waiting for Uddhavji's direction," she added.
"Not only the Sena, but even the people are fed up with the BJP as they have seen through their fake claims, announcements, attempts to malign us, at the same time induct tainted leaders... and people are ready for mid-term polls. No Sena minister will hesitate to pull out once Uddhavji directs," the spokesperson claimed.
She further said that the BJP's claims of non-transparent functioning of the BMC have been busted by its own government at the Centre which has left state leaders red-faced.
"Hence the CM has now resorted to using shameful language against Uddhavji," Kayande said, referring to Fadnavis' dig at Thackeray, asking him if the he was "adversely affected" by the note ban decision.
NCP dares Sena to withdraw support
Meanwhile, the Sharad Pawar-led NCP has dared Sena to withdraw its support to the Fadnavis government and said it was ready for mid-term polls.
"Shiv Sena doesn't have guts to quit the government. (However) if it does, the NCP will not support any party and will demand fresh polls," party spokesman Nawab Malik said.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar said that his party was prepared to face mid-term polls if they were to be held.
"Maharashtra is not going to face any damage if election comes within two and a half years," Pawar tweeted.
"If an eventuality arises after February 23 (counting day for civic body polls in Maharashtra), NCP is ready to face the election," Pawar added.