Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President Sharad Pawar called upon his party to immediately start preparations for mid-term assembly elections as the continuance of the BJP government in the state was in doubt.
"If the BJP and Shiv Sena had joined together, there could have been stability. However, that did not happen. If the situation continues like this for the next six months, it will be time for fresh assembly elections," Pawar cautioned, addressing a two-day party conclave at the pristine beach resort of Alibaug.
Pawar's stunning assertion evoked a sharp reaction from the Shiv Sena which quickly assured that it "was there to support BJP government, if required".
Shiv Sena Leader of Opposition Eknath Shinde and party spokesperson Sanjay Raut made it clear that the party would not hesitate to support the Fadnavis government in case a political crisis, as envisaged by Pawar, arose.
But both leaders said the final decision in this matter would be taken only by party president Uddhav Thackeray.
Predicting that mid-term assembly polls may be held anytime, Pawar said the NCP had remained neutral during the recent vote of confidence by Fadnavis and pointed out that in the near future there is little hope for political stability in the state.
"We are not obliged to ensure stability of the government," declared Pawar, whose NCP had declared 'unconditional external support' to the BJP which had emerged as the single largest group with an effective strength of 121 legislators, plus one pre-poll ally in the Oct 15 elections.
Pawar called upon NCP leaders to focus on constituencies which the party came second in the last assembly elections.
"NCP won 41 seats, came in second position on 56 seats and third postion on 51 seats. This means, we have the potential to win 148 seats," he said.