New Delhi: The rift between the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena widened on Sunday with the latter giving an ultimatum to its senior partner that it will part ways with it if it accepted support from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra.
A high voltage drama went on throughout the day on Sunday, culminating in the evening with Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray telling the media that it was ready to sit in the opposition in Maharashtra if BJP accepted NCP's support. "We are not desperate for power. We will wait for the BJP's response. If we didn't get a response in the next 2-3 days, we will sit in the opposition in Maharashtra," he said.
Thackeray alleged that NCP supremo Sharad Pawar was instrumental in the fall of NDA government in 1996. "Unfortunately, the BJP is seeking support from same Sharad Pawar," he rued.
Addressing a press conference in Mumbai, Thackeray said that they will not support BJP if they talked about splitting Maharashtra or taking away Mumbai from Maharashtra.
However, he sought to clarify that Union Minister Anant Geete will not resign from Narendra Modi's Cabinet at the Centre.
The Shiv Sena on Sunday boycotted the swearing-in ceremony of a new set of Union ministers on the ground that the Sena will not take part in the swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi till the issue in Maharashtra got resolved.
He said since the Maharashtra stalemate continued, therefore, he called back Anil Desai in the morning and did not allow him to take oath as Union Minister.
"We had told the BJP that until the Maharashtra issue was resolved, we will not participate at the Centre. Since they did not decide, we called back Anil Desai. Had everything gone well, Anil Desai would have taken oath in the Union ministry today," Thackeray said.
Talking about the induction of Suresh Prabhu as Cabinet Minister, Thackeray said, "It is unfortunate that Suresh Prabhu has joined the BJP." He said the induction of Prabhu, who had been in the Shiv Sena as Cabinet Minister, came as a climax to the growing chasm between the friends-turned-foes.