Despite its constant criticism of the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena will have to ally with the BJP for the 2019 polls over the issue of 'Hindutva', Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Tuesday.
He also strongly favoured construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya.
He said those with even basic understanding of politics know that the BJP and the Shiv Sena would have to fight together to win elections.
Devendra Fadnavis was speaking at the "Mumbai Manthan" conclave organised by news channel Aaj Tak.
Earlier this year, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had announced his party would go it alone in all future elections.
Though Shiv Sena is a BJP ally, it often criticises the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra over their policies and decisions.
"Uddhav ji keeps talking about Hindutva. In that case, there are just two parties (the BJP and the Sena) working for Hindutva. Therefore, they have to ally with us for Hindutva," Mr Fadnavis said.
Responding to a query on Ram temple, he said, "Devendra Fadnavis is one of the 125 crore Indians who wants to see a grand Ram temple being built,". The BJP wants to let the construction happen democratically and as per Supreme Court's directive, he added.
Mr Fadnavis also said that the Supreme Court has validated the state government's stand on the arrest of five activists for their alleged links with Maoists. He, however, conceded that the police department erred in holding a press conference over the issue.
After the arrest of activists in August-end, the Bombay High Court had raised questions over the Maharashtra police's media briefing on its case against them.
"It is possible we were wrong but how could we sit back while we were being constantly abused? If we have erred, we will apologise, but they (the activists) were trying to spread anarchy."
"Their crime won't be lessened even if we apologise (for the presser)," said Mr Fadnavis, who also holds the home portfolio.
Mr Fadnavis said there are "pseudo liberals" in Delhi who are trying to save these activists, but what the BJP was doing was in the national interest.
"There are more evidences apart from the assassination plot of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi ji. We have 10 times more evidence against these activists than we had based on which professor (GN) Saibaba was convicted (for Maoist links)," he said.
The police had claimed to have unearthed a Maoist plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The chief minister said the opposition was not concerned about the country and it was only thinking about removing PM Modi from power.
Mr Fadnavis said he had no hatred for the Gandhi family and regarded its members just as his political and ideological opponents. "We are in the same country, not in Pakistan," he said.
Mr Fadnavis said he wasn't made chief minister due to his proximity with the RSS, but because under his leadership, the BJP exposed opposition parties and fought them.
"When I first became CM people were apprehensive. Now, I have proven track record with facts and figures. Now, not my caste but my work will be seen (in next state polls)," he said.
Mr Fadnavis backed Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath over renaming Allahabad as Prayagraj.