A day after the Shiv Sena announced that it would go solo in the 2019 elections, a top party leader on Wednesday hinted that the Sena might withdraw support to the Devendra Fadnavis government any time. “Wait and watch … anything can happen,” said Sanjay Raut, the party spokesperson and key Sena strategist, considered close to party chief Uddhav Thackeray.
Speaking to The Indian Express after a party meeting in Pimpri-Chinchwad, Raut said the Sena was determined and fully prepared to fight the 2019 state and Lok Sabha elections on its own. “We are fully confident of coming to power on our own,” he said. When asked specifically whether there was a possibility of the Sena withdrawing support from the Fadnavis government, Raut said: “Wait and watch …”
Asked if the withdrawal of support will happen in six months, Raut said: “Wait and watch, anything can happen.”
Other Sena leaders interpreted it as a confirmation that the party will pull the rug from under the feet of the Fadnavis government. Off the record, top Sena leaders said that the withdrawal was imminent as the Sena wants to take the fight to the BJP, which is seeking to “finish off”’ the party.
Earlier, at a press conference, Raut said the Sena was not keen to hang on to power as it was not obsessed with power. “Remaining in power is not our objective. Despite being in power, we are fighting with the government for securing justice for the people of Maharashtra. We are playing the role of the opposition as the opposition has failed to do its job. While the the Congress was struggling to keep going, the NCP was struggling to find its feet,” he said.
MP Shrirang Barne and Pimpri-Chinchwad Sena chief Yogesh Babar were among those present. When The Indian Express asked Raut whether there was a possibility of Sena aligning with the likes of Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal, he said the matter has not been discussed yet. He, however, did not rule out such a possibility.
Asked as to who will be the Sena’s rival in the 2019 elections, Raut said the fight would be with the BJP. “Shiv Sena was a Hindutva party but it will have to be checked whether BJP was a Hindutva party,” he said. Asked about the chief minister’s statement that his government will last its full five year term, Raut said: “He is a man of patience and an experienced politician. He will work for the stability of his government.”