Shiv Sena asks BJP to clear stand on MNS, Modi talks to Uddhav

The BJP is in damage control mode in Maharashtra after its two decade long alliance with the Shiv Sena came under strain over Raj Thackeray.

Zee Media Bureau/Ajith Vijay Kumar

Mumbai: The BJP is in damage control mode in Maharashtra after its two-decade-long alliance with Shiv Sena came under strain over Raj Thackeray.

The matter forced NDA`s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to talk to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on phone to soothe frayed nerves. BJP`s Maharashtra in charge Rajiv Pratap Rudy was also rushed to Mumbai to meet Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray today.

As part of that outreach, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, a senior BJP leader who is in charge of Maharashtra, met Thackeray at his Mumbai home this evening.

"We met Thackeray at his residence Matoshree; the meeting was held in an amicable environment. I want to say that Shiv Sena is an indestructible part of the NDA," Rudy said.

Hitting out at the BJP, Uddhav said the party must clarify its stand on its alliance with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, led by Raj Thackeray.

"I have a question for the BJP. Who is your pointperson here? Who is speaking for the BJP?" Uddhav asked.

He also asked the MNS to clarify its election strategy. "If you have such a plan to fight elections against someone and then take their support after elections like (AAP leader Arvind) Kejriwal did, then clarify," he said.

An editorial in Shiv Sena mouthpiece `Saamana`, Tuesday, had denied any rift, saying that the alliance has weathered many storms and remains strong as ever, the BJP appears keen to avoid misunderstandings and iron out differences, if any.
The alliance came under pressure after former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari made attempts to include Raj Thackeray`s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in the five-party saffron alliance in the state and the NDA.

The BJP had reached out to the MNS to prevent the repeat of 2009 when the party had divided the Marathi votes in Mumbai, Pune and Nashik, leading to a clean sweep by the Congress-NCP alliance.

The MNS had fielded 11 candidates in 2009. Although it drew a blank but its candidates finished second in around half a dozen constituencies, marring the chances of the saffron alliance.

However, given the long standing deep divisions between Uddhav and Raj, the Sena is staunchly opposed to joining hands with the MNS.
In a veiled dig at the MNS, the `Saamana` editorial said, “The efforts by some to break the alliance and split the Hindu vote has gone in vain. There were differences at times as well, but the alliance survived all that."

The `Saamana` also praised NDA`s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. "Modi is getting support from all across the nation today. It`s almost as if there is a derby race on to support him. Even those who abused him yesterday are today chanting Modi Modi. No bigger proof of changing times," it said.

Importantly, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has called a meeting of party office-bearers and Lok Sabha candidates at party headquarters Sena Bhavan here today. The Shiv Sena leadership is expected to discuss poll strategy during the meeting.

The meeting comes days after MNS announced that it will contest the Lok Sabha polls. Raj has already announced the first list candidates for seven seats."We will contest the Lok Sabha elections. I will show my party`s strength during the elections. We will support Narendra Modi for the PM`s post. Modi should become the Prime Minister of the country," Raj had said while addressing his party workers.

"I will show my strength in the elections," Raj Thackeray added.