Mumbai: As the assembly elections in Gujarat ended on a high note for the BJP, with exit polls predicting a clear win for the party, its fractious ally Shiv Sena sounded a warning: Prepare for polls in Maharashtra, because the Sena will pull out of the government, probably within a year.
Pullout threats are not new for Sena - over the last one year, its various leaders have talked of ending the alliance many times. But this time, the warning comes from Aaditya Thackeray, the son of party leader Uddhav Thackeray and the leader of its Youth Wing.
Speaking at a rally in Ahmednagar on Thursday, Aaditya Thackeray said, "Shiv Sena can give up power anytime this year and that will be a decision of Uddhav saheb and you. Whatever happens, we have to work towards coming to power on our own."
He emphasized the point again, adding, "Political temperatures are high in Maharashtra. I don't know when elections will be held, but it looks like they'll be held in a year," he added.
Uddhav Thackeray has ruled out another alliance with the BJP in future ahead of the elections to the super-rich Mumbai civic body. The party had been beaten hollow in the election. Last year, he had gone on record saying his party "wasted 25 years in the alliance".
The Shiv Sena and the BJP, which govern Maharashtra together, have clashed on multiple issues. Whether it is demonetization or the crop loan waiver, the Sena has sided with the Opposition. Recently, the party also praised Rahul Gandhi, who had led the campaign of a resurgent Congress in neighboring Gujarat.
Last month, Mr Thackeray's meeting with Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had fuelled the buzz that the Shiv Sena could be considering changing sides as opposition parties discuss coming together to take on the BJP in 2019.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has already warned Sena, saying it could not continue to play the dual role of a "ruling party and the opposition at the same time" and Mr Thackeray must decide if he wants to continue the alliance with the BJP.