BJP will gift Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray a fibre-made replica of a tiger, the symbol of his party, as a token of friendship with its long-term ally despite the occasional tension in their ties.
Senior BJP leader and state Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar is likely to present the tiger replica to Thackeray, who is known to be an avid animal lover, at his residence next week. The replica is about 7ft long and 3.5ft wide and weighs around 55kg.
While declaring that he will be gifting the replica to Uddhav, Mungantiwar, however, asserted that it was a friendly gesture and no political meaning should be read into it. "The gift will be a symbol of our friendship. In addition to that, it will also be part of our 'Save Tiger' campaign. Uddhavji is an avid animal lover. I hope he will like the gift," Mungantiwar said.
Thackeray's party has been repeatedly targeting the senior ally over its policies and decisions. Uddhav had also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his unscheduled Pakistan visit late last month. A senior Sena leader, meanwhile, said that Mungantiwar had gifted a similar replica to megastar Amitabh Bachchan after he was made brand ambassador of the state's 'Save Tiger Mission'.
"The BJP needs to improve its behaviour with the allies instead of indulging in tokenism," the Sena leader said requesting anonymity. "Uddhavji was never against their (BJP's) ideology. He only questioned their intentions on certain issues. If his concerns are addressed in a right way, he will be pleased without any gift," the leader added.