THE Bharatiya Janata Party moved into damage control mode yesterday after the Shiv Sena threatened to snap ties with the alliance, miffed over the former getting closer to the Sena’s archrival Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.
mid-day had reported how there had been a growing demand in the Sena cadres to break off the grand alliance and contest the Lok Sabha polls independently (‘Sena may fly solo in LS polls’, March 11). After the BJP state unit chief Devendra Fadnavis met Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, the latter put off the decision to divorce the alliance. Then later in the day, BJP state in-charge, MP Rajeev Pratap Rudy, met him and cleared the air. Rudy was deputed from the party’s central unit. He went to the Thackeray residence, Matoshree, in Bandra (East) in the evening to assure Thackeray that all was well with their alliance.
The Sena was angry with the BJP’s growing proximity with the MNS — its leaders Nitin Gadkari, Vinod Tawde and Ashish Shelar had met Raj Thackeray to ask for political favours in the upcoming Lok Sabha and state council elections.
Sources said the BJP went all-out to convince Uddhav that he was an important ally of the NDA and the party wished for the alliance to continue in future. Fadnavis is believed to have facilitated a talk between Uddhav and BJP chief Rajnath Singh during his meeting at Matoshree.
Saving the ties
As part of its strategy to keep Uddhav in good humour, BJP’s central leadership decided to keep Gadkari, Leader of Opposition in state council Vinod Tawde, and city unit chief Ashish Shelar out of the loop. Instead, they deputed Fadnavis to handle the issue. Even senior leader Gopinath Munde remained aloof from the developments.
Post the meeting, Fadnavis, while briefing media persons, called the Shiv Sena a natural ally of the BJP and the NDA. He claimed Uddhav had assured him of continuance of the alliance. Without naming anybody, Fadnavis said there had been attempts to create confusion between the two parties. “No such differences exist between us,” clarified the state chief, adding that Uddhav had clearly told him about his support for Narendra Modi.
In the afternoon, Uddhav informed his party about his meeting with Fadnavis and the scheduled meeting with Rajeev Rudy later in the evening.
He then spoke with the media, announcing candidates for LS elections and took potshots at Raj. “For these people (MNS) who are extending support to Modi, politics is over; they cannot win votes merely by showing their faces,” he said. Hinting at Gadkari, Uddhav asked, “I have asked the BJP, who is the man in charge of the party in Maharashtra.
Our alliance with the BJP was based on Hindutva and we have always helped the party during critical hours.”
Monday, March 3: Former BJP president Nitin Gadkari meets Raj Thackeray in a five-star hotel and asks him not to contest Lok Sabha polls. Meanwhile, editorial in Saamana blasts Gadkari for meeting Raj
Friday, March 7: BJP’s leader of opposition in state council Vinod Tawde and BJP city unit chief Ashish Shelar pay a visit to Raj Thackeray at his residence in Shivaji Park, asking him to support BJP in the forthcoming state council elections
Sunday, March 9: MNS president Raj Thackeray announces his party’s seven candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, on his party’s formation day, at Shanmukhananda Hall; six are up against Sena hopefuls in the state
Monday, March 10: Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut told mid-day that his party men want Shiv Sena to go solo in the LS polls and break off the alliance
Tuesday, March 11: 11 am: Devendra Fadnavis, state president of the BJP, meets Uddhav Thackeray at his residence, Matoshree, in Bandra (East), to assure the miffed leader. Meanwhile, BJP president Rajnath Singh speaks to Uddhav
12.30 pm: Fadnavis informs media that the BJP’s alliance with the Shiv Sena is strong
3.00 pm: Uddhav Thackeray, in a press conference, denies any form of disturbance in the partnership
7.30 pm: National general secretary and Maharashtra in-charge of BJP, Rajeev Pratap Rudy, visits Matoshree to meet Uddhav and assure him that BJP is Sena’s ally