A day after Shiv Sena announced fielding candidates in UP and other states, BJP president Rajnath Singh today reached out to Uddhav Thackeray even as the Sena Chief ticked off BJP for "insulting" L K Advani over the ticket issue, reflecting strained ties.
Singh called up Uddhav to discuss Sena's desire to field its candidates in other parts of the country, an issue which has not gone down well with BJP, sources said.
They added that the Sena Chief told Rajnath Singh that his party's state units are putting pressure on the party to field candidates.
Uddhav has not given any assurance not to field Sena candidates in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where BJP is putting all its weight to win the maximum number of seats in its bid to form the next government at the Centre.
The relations between BJP and Shiv Sena have strained recently after former BJP Chief Nitin Gadkari's overtures to MNS Chief Raj Thackeray, Uddhav's estranged cousin and political adversary in Maharashtra.
Though BJP has been maintaining that there is no rift and all is well between the two old allies, Uddhav has not taken Gadkari's overtures to Raj in good stead.
Adding insult to injury, the Sena chief today questioned why BJP took so long to decide on Advani's Lok Sabha seat and said while Narendra Modi's era has begun, it does not mean that it is the end of Advani's era.
"Advani's name should have been in the first list of BJP Lok Sabha candidates. However, this did not happen. One who built the party and showed it days of glory was kept waiting."
"Why should BJP take so long to decide on Advani constituency. Doing so is his insult," the Sena president said in an editorial in Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana'.
Responding to Sena's remarks in 'Saamana', Rajnath Singh said neither his own name nor that of the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi appeared in the party's first list.
He said the names of both the leaders of Opposition were also not announced in the first list.
BJP Spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said, "Shiv Sena-BJP alliance is the oldest in Indian history. It is there since the last 28 years. Shiv Sena is like part of our family now.
If it has expressed its feelings in 'Saamana', it is about the future of a family member."
He said Sena has expressed its views considering its feelings for the BJP.
Reacting to Sena's remarks, another BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said, "There was never a rift and today also there is no rift. We take all advise and guidance and look up to Advani even today. So where do these discussions come from?"
The Sena editorial said the BJP veteran's political character is without any blot.
Uddhav's remarks came after Advani had on Thursday said he has decided to contest from the Gandhinagar constituency, after he was mollified by party leaders, including Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi, and told he was free to choose between the Gujarat seat and Bhopal.
"Murli Manohar Joshi was asked to contest from Kanpur so that Modi could contest from Varanasi. Rajnath chose safe seat Lucknow instead of Ghaziabad. Jaitley was fielded from Amritsar by removing Navjot Sidhu from fray. Then why was there so much delay in Advani's case," Uddhav said.
"The relation that the veteran leader has with the masses is still intact. The Advani episode may seem trivial in comparison with the current political tribulations but one must keep in mind that big accidents can occur through such small incidents," the Sena leader said.