Mumbai: The Shiv Sena said on Saturday that it would not attend a meeting of NDA constituents on the eve of winter session of Parliament, making clear that its exit from the national-level BJP-led alliance was almost certain.
As the party is holding talks with the Congress and NCP for forming government in Maharashtra, its Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut also said that it wants Sena president Uddhav Thackeray to be the chief minister.
Meanwhile, in Delhi, seating arrangement of Shiv Sena MPs in both houses of Parliament have been changed. They will now sit in the fifth row on the opposition side, sources told News18.
The Sena also accused the BJP of having intentions to indulge in "horse-trading" in the state, which is under President's rule since November 12. The Thackeray-led party fell out with the BJP over sharing of chief minister's post after the two allies won a comfortable majority in the last month's assembly polls.
The Sena's lone minister in the Narendra Modi government, Arvind Sawant, resigned on November 11. "I have learnt that the meeting (of NDA constituents) is being held on November 17. We had already decided against attending the meeting considering the developments in Maharashtra...our minister resigning from the Central government," Sanjay Raut said.
Asked if only a formal announcement of the Sena walking out of the NDA remains to be made, Raut said, "You can say that. There is no problem with saying that." He also said that "we want Uddhav-ji to lead the government in Maharashtra". The Sena, NCP and Congress have reached a consensus on a Common Minimum Programme (CMP), the basis of their proposed coalition government, and there was no need to discuss it in Delhi, Raut said.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar has convened a meeting of his party's core committee in Pune on Sunday. He may meet senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel in Delhi next week, and a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi may follow to discuss the CMP and other modalities of forming a coalition with the Sena, sources said.
Earlier in the day, the Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' sharpened its attack on the BJP in its editorial over a statement by state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil. Patil had said on Friday that with the support of independents, his party's tally in the 288-member Assembly stands at 119, and it will form government soon. The BJP's own strength is 105.
"Those with 105 seats had earlier conveyed to the governor that they do not have the majority. How come they are now claiming that only they will form the government?" the Sena mouthpiece asked. "...the intention of horse-trading stand exposed now," it added.
Maharashtra was placed under President's rule on November 12 after no party or alliance staked claim to form government. The Sena reached out to the Congress-NCP combine for support after its alliance with the BJP collapsed.
The BJP and Sena, which fought the October 21 polls in alliance, secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats, respectively. The Congress and NCP, pre-poll allies, won 44 and 54 seats.
Meanwhile, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis was quoted as saying that the BJP would form the government. The BJP held a meeting of its defeated candidates here on Saturday. State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil told reporters later that Fadnavis expressed confidence that the party would form government.
(With PTI inputs)