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Another 'Maha' divorce on cards? Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut hints party may pull out of Maharashtra govt

Almost three years ago, in October 2014, the Shiv Sena decided to part ways with its natural ally in the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) after 25 years, on the first day of the Navratri. That breakaway, however, was short-lived as the two reconciled after just 40 days.

Now, it looks like history might just repeat itself as the two parties look set for another separation. If senior Sena leader and spokesperson MP Sanjay Raut is to be believed, the party is close to a final decision.

 Another Maha divorce on cards? Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut hints party may pull out of Maharashtra govt

A file photo of Sanjay Raut. News 18

Raut said that all MLAs and MPs have decided to stand unanimously behind Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray's decision. "Whether we will stay in the government or withdraw will be decided at the Sena meeting at Matoshree on Monday," said Raut.

"The state has seen an unprecedented price rise... the farmers' loan issue has not been resolved and suicides continue unabated. Although we are part of the government, we are not responsible and don't want to share the blame," Raut added.

Inside sources close told Firstpost that the Sena may withdraw support to the Devendra Fadnavis government as early as Dussehra or Diwali.

In February as well, in the lead-up to the BMC election, Raut had told media persons that the Sena will withdraw support from the Fadnavis government.

After the split, the Shiv Sena was in Opposition all of 40 days, after which it joined hands with the Fadnavis government in the first week of December 2014. The Sena currently holds five cabinet berths and has seven ministers of state in the Fadanavis government.

Raut lay out several criticisms of the BJP government on Twitter recently:"Petrol and diesel prices have surged, the poor are going through a tough time. The plea for farmers' loan waivers has also been ignored. The time has come for Shiv Sena to decide on its alliance with BJP government in Maharashtra. So, wait and watch."

"Every political decision has to be taken at the right time, a muhurat. You must read the political meaning... the Fadnavis government right now is on notice period," Raut added.

To retain power in the Maharashtra Assembly, BJP needs to hit the magic figure of 145 out of 288 seats. BJP currently stands on 122 and the Shiv Sena on 63. So, the BJP will need the support of 23 more MLAs. Should the split happen, the 35-month-old Fadnavis government would be reduced to a minority in the Assembly. A separation will pave the way for new political equations in the state.

The Navratri start on 21 September and ends on Dussehra, on 30 September. Senior Congress leader Narayan Rane is also expected to join BJP in the coming days. He will hold a press conference on 21 September in his Kudal constituency, where he will reveal his future plans.

The coming 10 days will be crucial for Fadnavis, Thackeray and Rane as their fates are invariably tied to this separation.

Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.

Updated Date: Sep 18, 2017 19:35:33 IST

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