The Shiv Sena may be sitting in the Opposition in Maharashtra assembly but this has not prevented the BJP and the Sena leaders from sharing a stage.
The BJP president Amit Shah and Chandrakant Khaire , Sena MP from Aurangabad on Friday shared dais to kick off the first crushing season of a private sugar factory in Aurangabad. This fuelled speculations of talks of power sharing between both the parties in Maharashtra.
The local Sena legislator Sandipan Bhumre even gave a traditional welcome to the BJP chief and presented him a shawl and coconut which raised eyebrows.
Khaire later urged reporters not to attach any political meaning to the event. He told reporters that he had come for the function to put forth grievances of farmers before the BJP chief.
“I was invited for the event too. We only shared a stage and I appraised Shah about the farmers issues in the area,” Khaire said.
In his speech, Shah said Khaire should not be concerned about his presence at the event as it was a "farmers' platform".
"Khaire was saying something about his having to welcome me on this stage. It does not matter who welcomes whom. I will welcome him on this stage if that is the case because this is a farmers' stage," Shah said.
"When Narendrabhai (Modi) campaigned in Lok Sabha polls and sought a vote for change, nobody knew that the Shiv Sena-BJP combine will win 42 of the total 48 seats in Maharashtra," Shah said.
"People of Maharashtra have made the largest contribution in Modi's becoming the Prime Minister," the BJP president said.
"The work Modi government has done in five months, is something which cannot be done even in five years," he claimed.
"The priority of the BJP government in Maharashtra, headed by Devendra Fadnavis, is to strengthen the cooperative sector," Shah said.
Senior Sena leaders close to the party chief Uddhav Thackeray said that the event was on a local level and leaders had to attend it to maintain their equations on the local level.
But a BJP leader said the event had much more than meets the eyes. "Why was our national leader, who the Sena leaders called 'Adil Shah', invited to the function and felicitated? The Sena certainly wants to be friendly with us," he said.
BJP’s chief spokesperson Madhav Bhandari refused to comment.
But Sena leaders did not read more into the incident. "Uddhavji is out on a small break and will be back late on Sunday. All discussions will take place only after that,” a leader said requesting anonymity.
Meanwhile, sources have confirmed that both the parties have still kept a small window open for back channel talks, despite BJP winning the trust vote and Sena bagging the LoP post in the assembly earlier this week. In fact, Sena had an arrangement with the BJP to walk out during the trust vote so ensure that the government is formed for now.
The state cabinet is likely to undergo an expansion in a week and Sena is hoping for some breakthrough in their talks by then.