The Shiv Sena is apparently unhappy with the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) plans to induct former Union minister and technocrat Suresh Prabhu into the Union cabinet and give him a plum portfolio, party leaders said in Mumbai on Saturday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is believed to be keen to induct Prabhu - whose performance in critical ministries in the NDA-I had been praised by all parties - and may give him the responsibility of the railways portfolio.
"We have many more experienced and deserving MPs who need to be encouraged. The party is not clear how this will come (Prabhu's inclusion in the cabinet) from our (Shiv Sena) quota. We are still discussing it and will finalise the decision shortly," a Shiv Sena leader told IANS, requesting anonymity.
However, party spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut said it was Modi's prerogative to decide whom he wished to induct into his cabinet.
"The BJP had requested for Suresh Prabhu's name. He is highly experienced and his work in the past has also been appreciated. We shall wait for Uddhav Thackeray's final decision in the matter," Raut said.
He also confirmed that the Shiv Sena has nominated Rajya Sabha member Anil Desai's name for induction into the union cabinet to be expanded for the first time Sunday.
The official announcement on both Desai and Prabhu - both hailing from Mumbai with roots in Goa - is expected only later on Saturday night or Sunday morning by Thackeray, a party leader said.
"It will entirely depend on the outcome of talks for power sharing in Maharashtra. If it does not get resolved amicably and honourably, the party will decide its future strategy accordingly," the leader said, hinting at snapping ties with the National Democratic Alliance.
The 25-year-long relationship between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party has been on a downslide since the past few months, culminating in the BJP snapping ties with the Shiv Sena September 25, just three weeks before the October 15 Maharashtra assembly elections.
The BJP is also peeved that while speaking of joining the state government, the Shiv Sena is using pressure tactics by hobnobbing with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in a bid to change the state power equations.
NCP president Sharad Pawar on Saturday confirmed in Pune that Shiv Sena leaders had indeed met him, but claimed they did not put up any proposal before him.
A few days ago, Ajit Pawar had dropped a bombshell by claiming that the Congress had approached the NCP for help to install a Shiv Sena government with outside support from the two parties - Congress and NCP - as it fitted in the numbers game in the 288-member assembly.
However, with Desai's nomination, the BJP is hopeful of a positive attitude from the Shiv Sena on the ticklish issue of sharing power in Maharashtra where CM Devendra Fadnavis will face a crucial floor test of his minority government November 12.