If Shiv Sena nixes its alliance with BJP, Sharad Pawar-led NCP could back the latter in Maharashtra.
Mumbai: With Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray calling off their two-decade-old alliance on Thursday, the BJP could look at Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party or NCP to fill a crucial gap. "I will think about it if they come to ask for help to save the government," said Mr Pawar, who was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the country's second highest civilian honour, this week. The honour is seen as a sign of growing closeness between the NCP and the BJP, which rules both at the centre and in Maharashtra.
Here are the top 10 developments in this story:
Mr Thackeray said on Thursday that the Sena will no more contest elections in partnership with the BJP starting with next month's key civic polls in Mumbai and nine other cities of Maharashtra.
The Shiv Sena has 14 ministers in the government of the BJP's Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra. The party's 63 legislators support single-largest party the BJP, which has 122 legislators.
If the Sena withdraws support, Chief Minister Fadnavis' government will be in a minority - the halfway mark in the state assembly is 145 seats - and the NCP's 41 legislators can bridge the gap.
"I will not bend in front of anybody. If somebody thinks we are lesser than them, we will displace them," said Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday, accusing the BJP of "backstabbing" his party and ending the suspense over whether the allies would contest the elections to Mumbai's civic body BMC together.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' only comment so far has been this tweet: "Power is the means for change not the eventual goal. Change will happen. It will happen with you or without you." During failed negotiations over seat-sharing he made it clear that the Sena must acknowledge the BJP's new status as the bigger party in the state.
But since the last BMC election in 2012, when the Congress-NCP ruled the state, political dynamics in the state have altered drastically. The BJP, Shiv Sena's junior partner for years, has emerged as the state's number 1 party.
The BJP followed up a big win in the 2014 national election by emerging as the largest party in the Maharashtra assembly elections a few months later. In by-elections and local polls since the party has continued to make gains at the cost of the Sena, Congress and NCP.