Mumbai : Peeved at BJP leader Nitin Gadkari for hobnobbing with MNS chief Raj Thackeray, the Shiv Sena has warned that its “grand alliance” with the Bharatiya Janata Party could collapse if the BJP continued to hobnob with the MNS or the NCP.
Sena spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut spelt out this threat on Tuesday. Gadkari had met Raj Thackeray on Monday and reportedly urged the MNS not to put up candidates in the Lok Sabha election and instead support BJP candidates to oust the Congress-NCP combine.
Raj has been silent on this issue so far, preferring to postpone it to March 9. However, MNS leaders such as Bala Nandgaonkar feel the party should contest the LS polls to avoid a negative impact in the Assembly elections.
As part of damage control, state BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis rushed to meet Uddhav at his bungalow around midnight. Uddhav said there was a “communication gap within the BJP” as its leaders speak of defeating the Congress-NCP government but keep praising Pawar or Raj Thackeray.
Gadkari, on his part, backpedalled by saying that he only discussed strategies to dislodge the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections. He was perhaps trying to be one up on his arch rival Gopinath Munde, who is fulfilling the role of the late Pramod Mahajan who would negotiate with the Sena. Also, Gadkari and Uddhav don’t see eye-to-eye.
City BJP leader Vinod Tawde was the only one to come to Gadkari’s rescue. “Any additional votes are always welcomed by any political party. I don’t understand why Sena should get upset. Gadkari hasn’t invited MNS to join the NDA or allied with them. The idea is to ensure that we are able to counter Congress-Nationalist Congress Party strongly so that their candidates lose their deposits,” he said.
But Sena’s spokesperson Sanjay Raut had a different take on the matter and said that the meeting only creates more suspicion which can go against the ‘Maha Yuti’. “This meeting has created a suspicion in the minds of the voters and can go against Maha Yuti, this was avoidable. One must remember that the Marathi vote belongs to the Sena. The bus of ‘Maha Yuti’ is full and has left on its journey: there is no place for anyone.”