Amid reports that ruling BJP and Shiv Sena are hardening their positions on sharing of seats to contest the assembly polls, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray today said, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that the alliance is "unbreakable" and it will return to power once again.
Speaking at a function in Mumbai, Mr Thackeray lavished praise on Prime Minister Modi for nullifying Article 370, and gave a call for construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya and introduction of Uniform Civil Code.
"PM Modi has provided leadership and direction to the country which has immense capacity to progress and develop. I thanked Modi-ji for abrogating Article 370 (which provided temporary special status of Jammu and Kashmir) and the 'Chandrayaan-2' mission... Now the nation awaits the construction of a Ram mandir in Ayodhya and (introduction of) Uniform Civil Code," said Mr Thackeray.
"Kashmir is an integral part of India and it will remain so. Modi-ji has proved this in deed and not just in words," he added.
Mr Thackeray said the country is also proud of ISRO scientists for manoeuvring the ambitious moon mission. "India has immense capacity, and in PM Modi, the country has got a leadership to give (right) direction," he said.
Mr Thackeray also said the alliance with the BJP will sustain. "The alliance is 'atal' (unbreakable). We want power.. No doubt about it, but we need it for developing the state.
The 'yuti' (NDA alliance) will return to power in the state once again after polls. I am glad that PM Modi is providing facilities for growing population in the state," he said.
In his speech, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the country had never seen a Prime Minister sitting amidst ISRO scientists and boosting their morale.
In Mumbai, the Prime Minister, through a remote-control, laid foundation stone for three metro lines, which will together add more than 42 km to the metro network of the city.
He also laid foundation stone for a state-of-the-art Metro Bhavan in Aarey Colony and inaugurated Bandongri Metro Station in Kandivali East, all through a remote control from Jio World Centre in the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC).
He also inaugurated a state-of-the-art metro coach, the first metro coach under 'Make in India'.
Later in the day, the prime minister is scheduled to address a state-level Mahila Saksham Melava or Empowered Women's Meet of Self Help Groups, being organised by Maharashtra State Rural Livelihood Mission (UMED).
PM Modi will also inaugurate AURIC Business and Administrative Building and Dedicate DMIC AURIC City to the Nation in Aurangabad.
Leaders of the BJP and the Sena have held a primary round of talks in a bid to seal a seat-sharing deal, reported news agency Press Trust of India.
As per reports, the Sena wants the BJP to adhere to the 50:50 formula, which means both the parties contesting equal number of seats. However, poll managers of the BJP are arguing for more seats to accommodate leaders from Opposition parties and its "growing political might", reported PTI.
Of the total 288 seats, the BJP and the Sena have agreed to allocate 18 seats to smaller allies, but a formal deal is yet to be worked out.