A day after expressing apprehension of a rift with ally Shiv Sena over seat-sharing for the upcoming assembly elections, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday said the Sena and the BJP will contest the polls together. Mr Fadnavis, however, gave a cryptic response when he was asked about his reported remark that he would be "happy" to have Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray as his deputy. "Where have I said it?" he told reporters.
The Shiv Sena is projecting Aaditya Thackeray--party chief Uddhav Thackeray's son-- as its future leader and a possible chief ministerial candidate. Aaditya Thackeray has shown an inclination toward contesting elections this time around.
Mr Fadnavis, who is currently on a 4000-km statewide tour, also replied to queries on Aaditya Thackeray's inclusion in the state cabinet, if the parties win the state elections due later this year.
"That's upto his party. I can't decide for his party. I can only decide for my party," he said.
On Friday, the Chief Minister admitted that seat distribution could play spoiler between the two parties, especially with the BJP admitting so many leaders from the opposition.
"We don't have a place for everyone. We have put up a housefull board. But the BJP and the Shiv Sena alliance will face issues with seat sharing because in some places we have all the MLAs and in some places, they have all the seats. If we have to fight in an alliance, we will get some and we won't get some. We are not worried about it," Mr Fadnavis had said.
On Saturday morning, when he was asked about why there was not a word on the Sena in his rallies, Mr Fadnavis said, "That's not accurate. In every rally I talk about the alliance. Since this is a BJP rally, I will have to talk about the BJP and the government. But I ask people to vote for our alliance. And I say our alliance will form the government."
"I have made it clear that we will fight this election as an alliance, we will fight together with our friends and that's why I have told the Shiv Sena that let us finalise seats for our other partners and then we can distribute seats according to our fixed formula," he added.
The BJP-Sena partnership goes back nearly 30 years, but the past few years have been extremely difficult for their alliance. Both pulled back from the brink of a split and agreed last year to contest the polls together.
With the Sena appearing to be keen on pushing Aaditya Thackeray into a big political role, the allies seem to be hurtling towards potential disputes on seat sharing as well as the chief minister's chair.