Union Minister Ramdas Athawale on Friday said that the Shiv Sena would not have joined hands with the rival NCP-Congress coalition if the BJP had only agreed to its demand for rotational claim to chief ministership in Maharashtra.
"The Shiv Sena had been repeatedly asking for the chief minister's post for two-and a-half-years, but the BJP said they had reached no such agreement on this. In such a situation, the Sena joined hands with the Congress and NCP. With the three parties forming an alliance, the doors to the corridors of power have opened for them," news agency PTI quoted the Republican Party of India chief as saying.
The statement from Mr Athawale, himself an ally of the BJP in Maharashtra, came even as the Congress, NCP and the Shiv Sena inched towards sealing a deal on forming an alliance government in the state. Earlier in the day, the Congress and the NCP had both reportedly expressed their willingness to let Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray claim the chief minister's post.
The BJP and the Shiv Sena broke their nearly three-decade-old ties after the former refused to share the chief minister's position as part of a 50:50 arrangement allegedly agreed upon in the run-up to the October 21 assembly elections. "The BJP delayed things. If they had accepted the Shiv Sena's proposal and told Devendra Fadnavis to be the chief minister for two-and-a-half years, their friendship would have continued," Mr Athawale told the news agency.
He said that the BJP incorrectly assumed that the Congress will not support the Sena, forcing the ally to return on its own terms.
But the Union Minister said that the Shiv Sena's move went against the ideology of its founder Balasaheb Thackeray, and the Congress also stands to lose from the arrangement. "As this is an alliance of parties with diverse ideologies, I don't think that a government formed by them will make it through a five-year term," he added.
(With inputs from PTI)