Union Minister Ramdas Athawale today indicated that the BJP had been confident that it would be able to form government with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra despite the tussle over power share that ended in the declaration of President's Rule in the state last week.
"I told Amit bhai (Union home minister and BJP chief Amit Shah) that if he mediates then a way can be found out to which he (Amit Shah) replied 'Don't worry, everything will be fine. The BJP and the Shiv Sena would come together to form government'," Mr Athawale was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Breaking his silence on the matter last week, Amit Shah had accused the Shiv Sena of making unacceptable post-poll demands.
"Before the elections, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and I had said many times in public that Devendra Fadnavis will be the Chief Minister if the alliance wins. Nobody objected back then," he said. "Now they have come up with new demands that are not acceptable to us," he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
"It's not in our party's tradition to disclose what transpires behind closed doors... If the Sena thinks that it can revolt and get the people's sympathy, they really don't know the public," he had added.
The BJP and the Sena, allies for most part of 35 years, have unofficially parted company after being at loggerheads for weeks over government formation in Maharashtra. Even before the counting of votes ended on October 24, the Shiv Sena had demanded that the BJP stick to the 50:50 deal, which would give the Sena half the ministerial berths and a turn at the Chief Minister's post.
The party claimed the arrangement was worked out during Amit Shah's meeting with Uddhav Thackeray ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, when the BJP chief had visited Mumbai and met the Sena chief at his residence, Matoshree.
The BJP had disagreed and initially claimed there was no such deal. Later, then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had claimed such a deal might have happened but he had no information about it.
Furious, the Sena had marched towards the opposition camp, pulling out its lone minister from the Central government. It is currently in talks with the Congress and Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party to cobble out a possible alliance that would have majority in the state's 288-member assembly.
At the height of the spat, Devendra Fadnavis had met Amit Shah in Delhi, and the leaders of the party's ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, in Nagpur. But the BJP Central leaders had not officially approached the Sena.
Last week, while turning down the Governor's invitation for staking claim to form government, the BJP had blamed the Sena. "If the Shiv Sena wants to insult the mandate of the people and form government with the support of the NCP and Congress, they have our best wishes," state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil had said.
Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray had retorted saying, "The BJP told the Governor that they cannot form a government and advised us to form a government with the NCP and given us their best wishes. We are simply following their advice."