As Union Minister Ramdas Athawale suggested a new power-share deal between the BJP and the Shiv Sena to end the standoff in Maharashtra, Sanjay Raut's response today was - thanks, but no thanks. "He doesn't need to worry about us," said the Shiv Sena leader, asserting that a Sena-led government would soon come to power.
Sanjay Raut was speaking to reporters after his meeting with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar on Monday evening. The NCP and the Congress are yet to announce any decision on an alliance with the Shiv Sena and even yesterday, Mr Pawar said after meeting with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi that more discussions were needed.
In the middle of this uncertainty, Ramdas Athawale insists that all is not over between the BJP and the Sena. He claimed yesterday that he had suggested a different rotational arrangement with Sanjay Raut.
"I talked to Sanjay Rautji about a compromise. I suggested a formula of three years' chief ministership for the BJP and two years for the Shiv Sena, to which he said that the Shiv Sena could think about it if the BJP agrees. I will discuss this with the BJP now," news agency ANI quoted the Union Minister as saying.
The day before, Mr Athawale had quoted BJP president and Home Minister Amit Shah as saying: "'Don't worry, everything will be fine. The BJP and the Shiv Sena will come together to form the government'."
The Republican Party of India (RPI) leader also predicted that the Sena "cannot form a government with Congress-NCP" and said: "It is better if the Sena returns to the BJP fold and forms the government as soon as possible."
Mr Raut said on Mr Athawale's interjections: "He doesn't need to worry about us. Mediation is not needed. We will form an alliance which will have a majority of 170 in the house. A government will be formed and it will be led by the Shiv Sena."
The Shiv Sena walked out of its pre-poll alliance with the BJP over its demand for a 50:50 deal with half the cabinet positions and an equal turn at the Chief Minister's post. The BJP has denied any such promise to the Sena.