In a big statement, the Maharashtra BJP on Tuesday extended in what can be seen as its final olive branch to ruling party Shiv Sena saying that if they were ready to come back to the NDA fold they would agree to form an alliance with them again in the state.
State BJP President Chandrakant Patil while speaking exclusively to Republic TV said that while they were open to an alliance with the Shiv Sena if they wanted to come back, they would fight the next election alone.
Patil also put forward a caveat to Sena saying that they would only agree to form the government if the party gave up the support of Aghadi members NCP and Congress before their 5-year-term ends. He also said that while the Maharashtra BJP was open to the idea, the final call would be taken by central leaders.
BJP's offer comes amid constant rumours of cracks in the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance which were set off when Rahul Gandhi tried to distance the Congress from the Maharashtra government's handling of the COVID-19 crisis. The rift escalated in June after senior Congress leaders including Ashok Chavan and Balasaheb Thorat publicly admitted that there were certain differences with the functioning of the government. They demanded that Congress should get a bigger stake in the decision-making process and conveyed their grievances to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray.
However, even amid rumours of squabbles in the MVA, Uddhav Thackeray, in his most recent statement, challenged the opposition namely the BJP asking them to try and topple his 'three-wheeler' government saying that the 'steering wheel was firmly in his hands.'
The BJP-Shiv Sena combine secured a comfortable majority in the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections. However, they were unable to form the government as the BJP refused to accept Shiv Sena's demand of the rotational CM. As per Uddhav Thackeray, the BJP leadership had given a promise in this regard, a claim which was subsequently refuted by Amit Shah and Devendra Fadnavis. Thereafter, Shiv Sena joined hands with NCP and Congress to form the MVA government on November 28, 2019, under the leadership of Uddhav Thackeray.