Photo by Martin BERNETTI / AFP
Photo by Martin BERNETTI / AFP

Mumbai: Wedding bells are ringing in the Raj Thackeray household, as the family prepares for his son, Amit’s nuptials. He began by sending out invitation cards to his friends, mentor Lata Mangeshkar and politicians. He has sent emissaries to New Delhi to hand over a wedding invitation to Congress president Rahul Gandhi. However, no invitations have been sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president, Amit Shah, as yet.

Amit Thackeray will wed fashion designer Mitali Borude on January 27. Raj, the president of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, is the nephew of Shiv Sena founder, Bal Thackeray, on whom he has modelled himself. Although his party started with a bang in the state and municipal elections in 2006, today, the MNS barely registers its presence on the state’s political turf. Once a strong supporter of Modi and the Gujarat model of development, Raj has now made a complete U-turn after demonetisation, the Nanar refinery project and the bullet train project.

Raj has extended invitations to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and BJP ministers in the union government, Members of Parliament and leaders. Since 2014, Raj had addressed Rahul as ‘Pappu’ and had mocked his waving to the crowds as the ‘gesture of a truck cleaner’.

But apparently, all that is so much water under the bridge. Harshal Deshpande and Manoj Hate, Raj’s secretaries, went to New Delhi to hand over the invitations. As per sources, the list did not have the names of Modi and Shah. Among the BJP invitees are Arun Jaitley, Ramdas Athavale, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Sumitra Mahajan (Speaker of the Lok Sabha), Maneka Gandhi, Prakash Javadekar, Dharmendra Pradhan, LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Satyapal Singh.

Raj has, of course, invited Bollywood celebrities and industrialists.There is still a fortnight to go for the wedding, leaving open the possibility that Raj might have a change of mind. Or has he silently despatched the Modi-Shah invites already? Political circles are abuzz with the moves Raj is making to keep his party alive.

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