Insult of the mandate: Countdown begins for the formal split in saffron alliance

Mumbai: After failing to form the government despite the mandate it secured in the recently held Assembly election, the countdown has begun for the formal snapping of ties between the two saffron allies.

The Shiv Sena is in a mood to say good-bye to the BJP – after all, even best friends have to part sometime -- but it does not want to take the blame for severing the alliance.

But even as the Sena is keen to snap ties without acrimony, the BJP is driving the ally into a corner by replicating operation Lotus, which had helped them capture power in Karnataka. (The success of such an operation rests on inducements to coax MLAs into switching over their loyalty.)

Not willing to take any chances, given BJP’s penchant for engineering defections, the Shiv Sena ferried all its 56 legislators to Hotel Rangsharda near Bandstand in Bandra West. A modest and comfortable retreat, the outlet is barely a couple of kilometres from Matoshree.

Not just the Sena, even the Congress and the NCP were keeping 24x7 tabs on the movements, activities and visitors of their respective legislators, in a bid to prevent any poaching.

It is understood that Sena legislator Shrinivas Vanaga was among those who admitted to getting feelers from the BJP, along with a big ‘offer.’ He was sitting with Sena's legislative party leader Eknath Shinde when the bait came.

‘‘I do not want to break up the alliance, the BJP should take a call on this," Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray said while addressing Shiv Sena legislators on Thursday.

"The BJP is spreading the canard I am lying that Sena was promised the CM’s post, but this is incorrect. If the BJP is still inclined to honour the promised CM by rotation, the party high command can call me.

It is not that we want to snap ties with the BJP, but I am also firm in my resolve on the CM post. I will announce my decision at the right time," he said.

His statement is being interpreted as the last warning for the BJP. The Sena legislators, who were summoned for an urgent meeting by Thackeray at his residence on Thursday afternoon, have also given full authority to their chief "to take any decision as he deems fit", party sources said.

According to highly placed sources in the Shiv Sena, they will wait for BJP's response on the CM post till November 9 -- the last day of the outgoing Assembly.

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