Amid reports of Maharashtra minister Eknath Shinde along with some Shiv Sena MLAs camping in the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Gujarat, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) cheif Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said "there is an attempt to pull down government in Maharashtra, happening for the third time".
Pawar's statement comes after Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray went into a huddle with top Shiv Sena leaders and MLAs following a setback in the Maharashtra Legislative Council polls in which the Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition lost one out of the six seats it contested.
Meanwhile, in a cryptic tweet, Shinde said he remains a "Balasaheb's staunch Shiv Sainik". Balasaheb is a reference to Sena founder Bal Thackeray, Uddhav's father.
"We are Balasaheb's staunch Shiv Sainiks. Balasaheb has taught us Hindutva. We have never and will never cheat for power regarding Balasaheb's thoughts and Dharmaveer Anand Dighe Saheb's teachings," said Shinde in a tweet translated from Marathi.
CM Uddhav is running the Maharasthra government in a coalition with the Congress and NCP, of which Pawar is considered to be the architect.
However, Pawar added that there is "no question of going with BJP" on options if the MVA governmetn falls in Maharashtra.
He added, "It is internal matter of Shiv Sena. They will inform us after assessing situation."
Pawar also clarified he has not spoken with Shinde.
A Maharashtra Congress leader told PTI on condition of anonymity that Shinde, believed to be camping in Gujarat, wants to become the deputy chief minister.
The leader told PTI, "An upheaval was going on in the Shiv Sena for nearly a week."
On Shinde's ambitions, Pawar said, "Eknath Shinde never told us about his CM ambitions. I am sure Uddhav Thackeray will handle situation."
Earlier on Tuesday, Sena's senior leader Sanjay Raut said asserted that the Sena is a party of loyalists and attempts by the BJP, like in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, to topple the MVA government would not succeed. He also said Shinde was a trusted Shiv Sainik, and that the 'missing' MLAs will be back after the party is able to reach out the them.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil ruled out any link of his party to the ongoing political developments but also said the BJP would "definitely consider" a proposal if it comes from Shinde to form a government.
The Congress party has deputed senior leader Kamal Nath as All India Congress Committee observer to Maharashtra in view of recent political developments in state
In the 288-member Maharashtra assembly, Shiv Sena has 55 MLAS, NCP has 53, Congress has 44, Bahujan Vikas Agahdi has three, and Samajwadi Party, AIMIM and Prahar Janshakti Party have two each. MNS, CPI-M, PWP, Swabhimani Paksha, Rashtriya Samaj Party, Jansurajya Shakti Party and Krantikari Shetkari Paksha have one MLA each. There are 13 independent MLAs. The Opposition BJP has 106 MLAs.
(With PTI inputs)