Amit Shah communicates with Uddhav Thackeray for support
The BJP president met the Sena chief as part of the party's Sampark for Samarthan mission; but no confirmation on alliance
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, BJP president Amit Shah and Aaditya Thackeray at the summit yesterday
On the day Shiv Sena's mouthpiece Saamna spewed venom against him and his party, saying the BJP has lost connect with the people, and an alliance with it would not happen in any case; BJP president Amit Shah spent two hours at Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray's Kalanagar residence, cozying up to the alliance leader and his son.
Held in a cordial manner, the meeting on Wednesday is now seen as some improvement in a strained partnership, though there was no confirmation if the alliance would continue without any hurdle. However, both sides saw it as a positive development, and hoped something good that would help them retain power, if not through alliance, then through a friendly fight, would come out of it.
Treat Sena with respect
Sources said the Sena, as a strategy ahead of the meeting, had decided to tell the BJP president that it would not shy from pulling out of both the union and state governments, if not given adequate representations in Delhi and Maharashtra's council of ministers. Sources said enough hints were given to Shah by Thackeray as regards resentment on various issues, even agreeing on a common agenda of Hindutva, while taking things forward through discussion whenever possible.
Sources further said Thackeray was expected to tell Shah to treat Sena with respect and consider it as an equal partner in the seat-sharing formula for the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, if the alliance was to happen between them.
Thackeray had asked his second rung leaders Anil Desai, Sanjay Raut and Anil Parab to assemble at Matoshree after his meeting with Shah.
There was no official briefing from either side on the much-hyped summit, but earlier in the day, Shah told reporters before a crucial event, that he would be meeting Thackeray for the fifth time after Narendra Modi formed his government. "I'm fully confident that we will be together (in a pre-poll alliance) not only in the Lok Sabha, but also in the Assembly polls," he said.
Thackeray played the perfect host and treated the guests with warmth. He and his son came out to see off the BJP leaders. Aaditya sought Shah's blessings. Other than two senior leaders, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, education minister Vinod Tawde and Sena chief's son Aaditya conferred freely during the meeting, said sources. However, the important part of the deliberations was a prolonged discussion exclusively between Shah and Thackeray. The details of the indoor summit between the two were not available immediately.
The meeting was part of BJP's 'Sampark for Samarthan' (communication for support) mission that the party has started after its government completed four years in New Delhi. Ministers, MPs and office-bearers have been meeting celebrities, individuals and sportspersons of repute, retired civil servants and defence personnel, thinkers, statesmen and activists across the state, to get their feedback on Modi's governance.
Alarmed by defeats in by-polls, Shah has taken upon himself to cozy up to estranged allies like Sena, Akali Dal and Janata Dal (Nitish). He began on Wednesday with Sena, the biggest NDA ally with 18 MPs in the Centre, and a ruling partner in Maharashtra.
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