With NDA being reduced to a three-party alliance after JD(U)'s exit, Shiv Sena on Monday asked the BJP to explain its plans to bring in new allies, saying "friends don't grow like trees".
"Friends don't grow like trees, they have to be nurtured. How does one get friends if one chops off the branches of the tree which till now provided fruits, flowers and shade?" Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray asked in an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana.
"After JD(U) exited NDA, BJP and Shiv Sena are left. The Akali Dal's strength has never gone above four or five MPs," Uddhav, whose party is the BJP's oldest ally, said, voicing concern over the dwindling strength of the alliance.
"Once, there were 25 to 30 parties in NDA. Now, hardly three remain. Earlier, even the hall in Advani's home was not enough to hold its meetings. Now, a table and four chairs are enough," he said.
"The post of NDA convenor is vacant. But what work is left for the convenor, other than calling two parties for tea?" Uddhav, who was reportedly offered the post of the NDA convenor by the BJP, said. The post was vacated by JD(U) president Sharad Yadav when his party quit the alliance.
Uddhav said the names of BJP's "new friends" at the national level should be announced if the NDA were to get a majority in the Lok Sabha polls.
"Narendra Modi has been given the responsibility of Lok Sabha polls. But is it possible for BJP to defeat Congress on its own? If not, then it should be announced who are BJP's new friends at the national level," he said.
"In Maharashtra, there is Shiv Sena and would be with BJP on the issue of Hindutva. But who else is there in othere states? Will Mamata go with BJP in West Bengal? Will Naveen Patnaik rejoin the NDA fold? Will Yeddyurappa be appeased? Will Jagan Reddy go with BJP? Which 'Dravida' parties in south are with us?
"Jayalalitha is friends with Modi but will she join NDA? If answers to such questions come in time, only then the number of friends will increase and lead to a majority (for NDA) in the Lok Sabha," Uddhav said.
"Advani has asked if BJP has the ability to defeat Congress on its own. That is why his advise that BJP should have new friends is important," he added.