BJP general secretary Ram Madhav predicted in a recent interview with Bloomberg that his party will fall short of an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha elections, forcing it to depend on allies to form a government at the centre. This was the first instance of somebody from the BJP speaking of such a possibility, given party president Amit Shah's repeated claims at election rallies that they will get a clear majority with over 300 seats.
However, Ram Madhav's statement - coming at a time when there are still two electoral phases to go - has been echoed by the Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut. He says that today's scenario is different from that of 2014, when the party achieved a clear majority on its own.
"The statement (by Ram Madhav) rings true. This is what I currently sense in the country. The National Democratic Alliance will form the government with the BJP as the single-largest party, but it will be somewhat difficult for the BJP to win 280-plus votes," Mr Raut told NDTV.
The Shiv Sena allied with the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections two months ago despite differences that had cropped up between the two parties in the wake of the 2014 polls.
Mr Raut saw opposition alliances across the country as one of the reasons for the arithmetical shift that would deprive the BJP of a clear majority. "We do believe that the National Democratic Alliance will cross the 300 mark but the BJP will fall short due to this very reason," he said, adding that regional parties across various states will emerge stronger in the ongoing elections.
There, however, is one thing that he has no doubts about: Narendra Modi will return as the Prime Minister.