Raigad (Maharashtra), Nov 7 Raising the political temperatures, Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar on Tuesday revealed that Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray recently met him and they discussed the need for an "alliance of like-minded parties" in the country.
"Uddhav, accompanied by (party leader) Sanjay Raut, met me at my Mumbai residence 10 days ago," Pawar told media persons on the sidelines of the ongoing two-day brainstorming session of NCP at a luxury resort in Karjat here.
"We also discussed the need for an alliance of all like-minded parties in the country," he said, indicating the parties opposing the Bharatiya Janata Party policies.
"I felt that he (Thackeray) is not keen on continuing with the (BJP) alliance in the state, but they did not indicate whether they would withdraw support. However, in case, it (Shiv Sena) leaves the government, we shall not be available to bail them (BJP) out," Pawar said, burying all speculation on this count.
He said the NCPs' stand is clear - it will not go to support anybody though it has always stood for joining hands with like-minded parties, but said that there was no discussion with Thackeray on this issue.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik later told IANS that the Sena is dissatisfied with its alliance with BJP at the centre and in Maharashtra, but it has yet to take a stand on whether it will continue or walk out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
However, despite the political waves Pawar's statements created, the Shiv Sena maintained a studded silence.
The already strained relations between the BJP-Sena came under severe pressures last month after former Chief Minister Narayan Rane left Congress and launched his own "Maharashtra Swabhimaan Party", which joined the NDA as a prelude to Rane's induction as a cabinet minister in an expected reshuffle to be carried out by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Pawar's revelation comes a day after senior NCP leader Praful Patel said at the 'Chintan Shibir' that Pawar could be in the race for Prime Minister after the next Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
However, in his characteristic style, the elder statesman advised the party leaders to "banish the idea of him becoming the PM" and instead work hard on building and expanding the NCP.
Incidentally, five days ago, Thackeray and his son Aditya had called on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who appreciated supported the Sena stance of criticizing the BJP as "doing the right thing."
Earlier on Tuesday, Yuva Sena leader Aditya Thackeray penned a severe critique of the BJP in a blog in which he termed the intent behind the demonetization exercise as "dubious", and one which had failed the hopes of the people and even the country.