Sena and BJP stumbled over each other to give Amit Shah’s last-minute decision a spin in their favour; while BJP claimed Shah caved in only after two invites from Uddhav, Sena said the invitation indicated that Thackeray did not let ego come in the way of ties
What should have been indicative of a softening of Shiv Sena-BJP ties after prolonged bickering over seats was also turned into a game of one-upmanship yesterday. Both parties tripped over each other to give BJP chief Amit Shah’s last-minute decision to pay his Sena counterpart Uddhav Thackeray a visit at Matoshree a spin in their favour.
Amit Shah got a rousing welcome at the airport from party workers. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
While the Sena, which had come out with unnamed posters taking a dig at Shah for not revealing whether he would meet Thackeray, declared the meeting a victory for itself, the BJP tom-tommed the fact that the meeting had happened only because Thackeray had called Shah twice on Wednesday night to invite him over.
When Shah landed in Mumbai yesterday, Thackeray was hosting a press conference on his vision document at Shiv Sena Bhavan in Dadar. When he was asked, however, whether Shah would be meeting him, he avoided the question. Almost immediately, he began receiving messages from top BJP leaders stating that Shah had accepted his invitation to visit his home.
The poster, which had the words SHAH-NA (SHAANA) HO (be wise) showed Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh meeting and bowing to Bal Thackeray to drive home the message that BJP leaders always visited Matoshree
The tone of the messages, however, indicated that the meeting was happening only because Thackeray had invited Shah twice and because Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut had a long meeting with the BJP chief in Delhi on Tuesday might convince him to go to Matoshree. The Shiv Sena, however, tried to paint a different picture.
Amit Shah and state BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis with Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray at Matoshree yesterday
A senior Sena leader, who is known to be close to Thackeray, said the invitations indicated that the Sena chief did not let his ego come in the way of his ties with allies. He also said that the BJP’s behaviour ahead of the visit hadbeen surprising as it had been customary for senior BJP leaders, including L K Advani, Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh, to pay a visit to Matoshree when they were in Mumbai.
The state BJP camp said the way the meeting came about had made them happy as, for the first time, they felt superior to the Shiv Sena. “We have always been the one compromising and have been treated like the smaller party in the state. But the fact that Shah did not meet Uddhav on his own, and went only after he was invited twice, indicates that the Sena is now the smaller player in the alliance.
They came out with a poster making fun of our leader. If they think they are smarter than us, then why did Uddhav call Shah, that too twice?” asked a BJP leader. A senior Sena leader, however, retorted: “When Modi visited Matoshree on his own, why did Shah need a special invite?” asked a senior Sena leader.
Leading from the front
Amit Shah, meanwhile, maintained a magnanimous stance during his visit. Addressing party workers at Shanmukhananda Hall, he mentioned Bal Thackeray and said Maharashtra belongs to Balasaheb. He also said BJP and its allies would form a government in Maharashtra in a bid to put a full stop to talks of a rift in the saffron alliance.