The BJP hit back at the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP combine over show of strength of their MLAs at a hotel in Mumbai on Monday evening and said his party will win the "photo finish" race during floor test in the assembly. Addressing a press conference, BJP leader and former Maharashtra minister Ashish Shelar taunted the Sena-NCP-Congress for "identification parade" of their MLAs and termed it as a cruel joke on the people of the state and democracy.
This cannot be equated with a floor test in the assembly, he said, minutes after the unprecedented public parade of what the three parties claimed were 162 MLAs at a high-end hotel. The former minister said identification parades are held to allow witnesses to identify criminals.
Shelar said, "We are sure that we will win the floor test in the assembly, whenever it gets convened. Such parades in a hotel will not help in proving majority on the floor."
He also hit at the Shiv Sena, the BJP's one-time ally, for "forsaking" Hindutva and joining hands with the Congress, its ideological rival.
Shelar took potshots at Shiv Sena MLA Aditya Thackeray, the son of party chief Uddhav Thackeray, for taking an oath in the name of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
"The way Shiv Sena leaders have joined hands with the Congress, it underscores how hollow it's Hindutva has been," said the BJP leader.
Shelar doubted if 162 MLAs were present during the show of strength, organised a day before the Supreme Court rules on floor test for the Maharashtra government led by Devendra Fadnavis whose swearing-in has been challenged by the Sena-NCP-Congress, constituents of the 'Maha Vikas Aghadi'.
He wondered whether there were even 145 MLAs at the hotel, the majority mark in the 288-member state assembly.
"You may have your photo, you may have your photographers there to show your strength, but it is the BJP who will win at the time of photo-finish under the leadership of Devendra Fadnavis and (deputy CM) Ajit Pawar," he said, indicating a tight race during the floor test.
At the event, attended by top leaders of the three parties, an oath was administered to the MLAs to stay together and defeat the Fadnavis-Ajit Pawar government.