The rift between the partners of Maharashtra's ruling alliance became evident again today with state Congress chief Nana Patole accusing Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his deputy, Nationalist Congress Party's Ajit Pawar, of "keeping watch" on him. This is because the Congress "is gaining strength the on ground and hence the NCP and Shiv Sena are scared," said Mr Patole, who earlier levelled phone-tapping allegations against the BJP-led government headed by Devendra Fadnavis.
At a Congress district committee meeting in Lonavala on Saturday, Mr Patole said the NCP and Shiv Sena are holding the posts of the Chief Minister and the Home Minister in the state government.
"They receive reports about everything. Who is protesting where, everything needs to be updated. They even know what I am doing. The CM and Deputy CM are keeping a watch on me," added the leader who had joined the Congress from the BJP.
In June, Mr Patole had set off a rift in the alliance, declaring that it was a temporary one.
"We formed the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in 2019 for five years to stop the BJP. This is a not a permanent fixture. Every party has the right to strengthen its organisation and the Congress has always given priority to providing relief to COVID-19 affected people by making available blood, oxygen and plasma at various places," Mr Patole had said. Mr Patole has also been declaring that the Congress will go solo in future and that party is gaining strength on ground.
The Chief Minister had retaliated, saying those who only talk about contesting elections alone without offering solutions to people's problems, will get a thrashing from the people.
The ideologically disparate Congress and the Shiv Sena -- which had battled for years in the state -- had come together under the influence of NCP veteran Shard Pawar after the 2019 state elections.
But over the last weeks, the differences within the alliance have been stark. Mr Thackeray's meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi had compounded the situation and set off speculation about a rapprochement between the former allies, which the Sena had attempted to dissipate.
"I don't want to get into this duel.They are small people, why should I comment on them? If Congress president Sonia Gandhi had said something, then I would have commented on it," Sharad Pawar told reporters in Baramati .
Earlier this year, Mr Patole has claimed that his phone was tapped during 2016-17 when he was a Member of Parliament and the state government was headed by Devendra Fadnavis. He said his phone was tapped on the pretext that it belonged to drug-peddler Amjad Khan.