Mumbai: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday congratulated the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for pulling out of the Jammu and Kashmir alliance with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) but asked why it took so long for the BJP to take this call.

Thackeray, who was addressing the Sena cadres in Mumbai on the party’s 52nd foundation day, reiterated the Shiv Sena’s position that it would unfurl the bhagwa (saffron) flag atop the Maharashtra legislature. The next chief minister of the state would be from the Sena, he said.

The Sena chief, however, gave no indication of a thaw in the frosty relationship with the BJP in his first major public speech after BJP president Amit Shah called on him in Mumbai on 6 June apparently to explore a pre-poll alliance between the two parties.

The decision to hold the monsoon session of the Maharashtra legislature in Nagpur from 4 July could be an indication of early Lok Sabha elections, Thackeray said. The Maharashtra legislature usually holds its winter session in Nagpur during November-December. The Sena chief asked the party cadres to be ready for elections in December and indicated that the party would contest polls on its own.

Thackeray said that Shiv Sena’s “commitment to unalloyed Hindutva" would not allow it to join any alliance that believed in dividing Hindus among castes. He raised questions over the term “like-minded parties", saying that the Shiv Sena would not support the coming together of parties on the single-point agenda of grabbing power. “For me and Shiv Sena, being like-minded means being committed to representing the people’s angst and solving their problems," he said.

The Sena chief snubbed Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar who earlier this month had asked all non-BJP parties to join a “third front". He accused Pawar of indulging in divisive politics in Maharashtra and said the Shiv Sena’s Hindutva was inspired by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who built the Hindavi Swarajya (Hindu self-rule) on the foundation of unity among all Hindu castes.

Thackeray launched a broadside on the BJP over the situation in Kashmir, saying that the BJP pulled out of the coalition in the state only after 600 jawans died. He also criticized the announcement of ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir during Ramazan.

“You keep saying that terror has no religion. If that is the case, why did you announce ceasefire during Ramazan only? Have terrorists or Pakistan ever announced a ceasefire during Navaratri or Ganapati festival?" Thackeray asked.

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