Raigad: Eighteen days after Devendra Fadnavis became the Maharashtra chief minister, NCP president Sharad Pawar Tuesday said early elections could take place in the state.
He urged his party to immediately start preparations for snap polls as the "continuance of the BJP government in the state is in doubt".
"If the BJP and Shiv Sena had joined together, there could have been stability. That didn`t happen. If the situation continues like this for six months, it will be time for fresh elections," Pawar told a two-day party conference at the beach resort Alibaug.
Reacting sharply, Fadnavis expressed confidence that his government would survive its five-year term.
"Our government will survive its full five-year term. There will be no need for a mid-term election," Fadnavis said.
To a question, he said talks with the Shiv Sena were on to form a coalition government with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Commenting on Pawar`s assertions, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray said his party would continue to be "a strong opposition party" in the state.
"Those who were with us for 25 years ditched us. Now, we are going to only concentrate on standing solidly behind the common man," he said.
Asked if the Sena would join the BJP government, he said no decision had been taken and it would be decided at the appropriate time.
Thackeray ticked off the Nationalist Congress Party chief, saying "Pawar speaks one thing and does exactly the opposite".
Another Shiv Sena leader, however, asseted that it "was there to support the BJP government if required".
Sena`s 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.
But both leaders said the final decision would be taken by Thackeray.
Predicting snap polls within four to six months, Pawar said the NCP remained neutral during the recent vote of confidence by Fadnavis and said there was little hope for long-term political stability in the state.
The BJP`s vote of confidence by a voice vote raked up a major controversy with the Congress and the Shiv Sena complaining to Governor C.V. Rao on the manner in which it was won.
"We are not obliged to ensure the stability of the government," declared Pawar, whose NCP had declared "unconditional external support" to the BJP after it emerged the single largest group with 121 legislators.
Pawar called upon NCP leaders to focus on constituencies where the party came second in the assembly elections.
"The NCP won 41 seats, came second on 56 seats and third on 51. This means, we have the potential to win 148 seats," he said.