A week after the Assembly poll results were out in Maharashtra, deadlock over power sharing between the BJP and ally Shiv Sena continued on Thursday as developments in the opposition Congress-NCP camp triggered talks of possible formation of an alternative government.
The day saw a series of meetings between senior leaders of major non-BJP parties, triggering talks in political circles about possibility of the Sena forming a government with the backing of opposition parties.
The Shiv Sena rubbished reports of a climbdown and on Thursday again indicated it had not given up its claim on the post of chief minister and 50:50 division of portfolios.
Both these demands have been rejected by the BJP which has insisted that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will continue in the post for the next five years.
Adopting a harsh tone, the Uddhav Thackeray-led party on Thursday accused the BJP of enacting "second act" of the "use and throw" policy while dealing with its ally.
Whatever was decided when the two parties stitched up alliance before the Lok Sabha elections should be implemented, the Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' said in an editorial.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut described as "rumours" reports that his party has softened its stand on the issue of sharing power with senior partner BJP.
Raut, the executive editor of 'Saamana', described reports in a section of the media alluding to the 'softening of stand' by the Sena as hearsay.
"The (reports that) Sena has softened (its stand), has compromised and relinquished equitable distribution of posts, are all rumours," he tweeted.
"This is the public, which knows everything. Whatever will was decided (between BJP and Sena), will happen," he added.
Maharashtra minister Eknath Shinde was on Thursday elected as the Sena's leader in the state legislature. His candidature was proposed by party leader Aaditya Thackeray, whose name was also doing the rounds for the post, at a meeting of newly-elected MLAs.
At the meeting, Sena sources said, party president Uddhav Thackeray was apparently dismayed by Fadnavis's remarks that sharing the CM's post did not figure in the talks between top Sena and BJP leaders ahead of this year's Lok Sabha polls.
Asked about the delay in government formation after the October 21 elections, Aaditya Thackeray said his party has given all authority in the matter to Sena chief and his father Uddhav Thackeray.
The 29-year-old Thackeray family scion was speaking to reporters after meeting Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari with whom he raised the issue crop loss due to unseasonal rain in various parts of the state.
Meanwhile, a day after the Congress-NCP claimed they will sit in the opposition, different signals emanated from the opposition camp.
Congress leaders Balasaheb Thorat, Ashok Chavan and Prithviraj Chavan flew to Delhi to meet party chief Sonia Gandhi amid talks in political circles about possibility of the Sena forming a government with support from opposition parties.
Earlier in the day, the three Maharashtra Congress leaders met NCP chief Sharad Pawar at the latter's residence.
Later in the evening, Raut met Pawar, sources in the Sena said.
What transpired between Raut and Pawar was not immediately known, but it sparked speculation about efforts being made for possible formation of a non-BJP government.
"The three leaders are in Delhi for a meeting with the party president (Gandhi)," sources in the Congress said.
They said the meeting is taking place after Pawar told the troika in the morning that they should speak to the Congress high command on the current situation and take approval on the steps to be taken.
Amid all this, Prithviraj Chavan said in case the Shiv Sena sends any proposal over government formation, the same will be conveyed to the party's central leadership.
In the just-held state polls, the BJP won 105 seats, a loss of 17 seats compared to its 2014 tally.
The Sena's tally also came down to 56 seats from 63 in 2014. A resurgent NCP won 54 and the Congress bagged 44 seats.
The simple majority mark in the 288-member assembly is 145.