Maintaining suspense, the Shiv Sena-a NDA constituent and oldest ally of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), remained non-committal on the Telugu Desam Party's (TDP) proposed no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government in the Lok Sabha.
While Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray has chosen to keep mum on the political developments in the national capital, party circles indicated he may soon convene a meeting of top party leaders, its MPs, MLAs and MLCs before finalizing its stand. The party has 18 Lok Sabha MPs.
"No decision on the issue has been taken by the Shiv Sena. Whatever decision has to be taken, will be done by Uddhav (ji)," said senior party leader and Union Heavy Industries Minister Anant Geete who was in Mumbai on Friday.
In fact, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP President Chandrababu Naidu had on February 3 called up Thackeray and expressed his grouse with the BJP over many issues, including the Union Budget, the "step-motherly treatment" meted out to Andhra Pradesh, and the party's mood to quit NDA and go alone.
Like the TDP, the Sena has nursed an old grudge since 2014 for not being allotted additional ministerial berths in the Union Cabinet and for being allocated unimportant portfolios in Maharashtra cabinet where it is a coalition partner, besides its unhappiness over its bete noire, Maharashtra Swabhimana Party chief Narayan Rane joining the NDA and being given a BJP ticket for the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls.
Earlier, Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had met Thackeray in Mumbai on November 2, and the duo are known to have built up a rapport then.
In a sharp critique after the outcome of the recent bypolls in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the Shiv Sena on Friday predicted that BJP's tally would fall by 100-110 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from its current strength of around 272.
Prior to this, on January 23 on the 5th death anniversary of the Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray, Uddhav Thackeray had announced that hisparty would independently contest the 2019 parliament and Maharashtra assembly elections, besides spreading wings to fight elections in other states around the country.
Attempting to mollify its partner, BJP's Finance Minister Suhir Mungantiwar this week claimed that the BJP and Sena would jointly contest the next elections "in the interest of the people of the state".
However, he was snubbed by his cabinet colleague and Sena's Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam who said that while Thackeray has already declared the party would go solo in next elections, any decision in this regard would be taken only by him (Thackeray) and not the BJP.