MUMBAI: Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray sparked fresh speculation across political circles about a possible remaking of the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance after he referred to Union ministers Raosaheb Danve and Bhagwat Karad from BJP as potential "future colleagues."
Political pundits wondered if Thackeray's comments were laced with humour or whether he was dropping a big hint. Former CM Devendra Fadnavis, however, ruled out the possibility of the former saffron allies coming together.
Speaking at an event in Aurangabad where he shared the stage with Danve, Thackeray said, "Present here are my current, former.... and if we come together, my future colleagues." Danve is the Union minister of state (MoS) for railways and a BJP MP from Jalna. Karad is Union MoS for finance.
"I like the railways for one reason. You can't leave the tracks and change direction. But if there is a diversion you can come to our station. The engine does not leave the tracks," Thackeray said in his speech. Thackeray, whose party Shiv Sena has opposed the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train, also said he would offer full support if Danve took the initiative to launch the Mumbai-Nagpur bullet train project.
The CM's remarks came a day after BJP state unit chief Chandrakant Patil said he should not be called a "former minister". Also, currently, Sena minister Anil Parab is facing a summons from the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case. When asked about his remarks and a possible alliance with BJP, Thackeray later told media persons that "only time would tell".
BJP's leader of opposition in the state assembly Devendra Fadnavis ruled out the possibility of an alliance but Danve chose to add to the speculation. "The CM must have said this because he realised that the unnatural alliance of three parties is not likely to last much longer," he said.
Later on Friday, Danve met Shiv Sena minister Abdul Sattar. "He has said that if they come together, which means that he hasn't ruled out the possibility of us coming together," Danve said. "It means that he might have some experiences with the colleagues from the Congress and NCP," he added.
State Congress chief Nana Patole downplayed the comments. "The CM sometimes likes to crack a joke. This government will run its full five-year term," Patole said.
(With PTI inputs)