The BJP tried to downplay the apparent differences with its alliance partner Shiv Sena, a day after senior party leader Nitin Gadkari reached out to MNS chief Raj Thackeray asking him not to contest the Lok Sabha elections.
The Shiv Sena had reacted sharply to the meeting between Raj and Gadkari saying the MNS chief was not welcome to the alliance. The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena was upset with Gadkari reaching out to his bête noire Raj’s MNS ahead of the polls.
Reacting to the Gadkari-Raj meeting, the Shiv Sena chief wrote in party’s mouthpiece Saamana, “There is a big communication gap within the BJP created by those praising the Congress and NCP leaders.”
“All doors are now closed for the MNS, there is no need for any negotiation with Raj Thackeray’s party, we do not require them in the NDA,” senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said.
Raut had even gone to the extent of holding out a threat saying “if a senior leader from the BJP supports Raj or Sharad Pawar, it can affect our grand alliance.”
Talking to Express, a senior BJP leader from Maharashtra said there were some strong reactions from the Shiv Sena’s side, but things had been sorted out. “Gadkariji had said he would not like the MNS to contest the Lok Sabha polls as it would have divided the Marathi, anti-Congress votes. During the last elections, the MNS affected poll prospects of the NDA alliance,” he added.
There are 40 seats in Maharashtra and the BJP-Shiv Sena-SSS-RPI alliance hopes to win maximum number of seats riding on the anti-incumbency factor. Both the Shiv Sena and the BJP had lost their five respective seats due to the MNS factor during the 2009 general elections. If Raj could drop his plans to contest the LS polls, he might be accomodated later during the Assembly polls in October. However, he is yet to respond to Gadkari’s offer.
After Shiv Sena’s apparent annoyance, Maharashtra BJP president Devendra Fadnavis rushed to meet Uddhav on Monday. After the meeting, Fadnavis said: “Gadkariji has clarified the motive behind meeting Raj Thackeray.”