A late-night visit by Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray’s Mumbai residence has rekindled the buzz around a possible tie-up between the two parties for the BMC elections scheduled later this year. The two leaders met on Monday, though the details of the discussions held between them are scant.
The meeting assumes significance in view of the growing proximity between the two ideologically-aligned parties over the past years. The increasing bonhomie, however, was dealt a blow after Thackeray began to question the BJP over certain decisions which the BJP responded to with equal ferocity. The meeting yesterday, thus, is being watched closely to see if a thaw has been reached.
Uddhav Sena trains guns at Shinde faction
The meeting also coincided with claims by the Shiv Sena (UBT) that several legislators and MPs from the ruling faction of the party were unhappy with their situation and could jump ship. The claim came after Shiv Sena MP Gajanan Kirtikar said on Friday that the Shiv Sena leaders were being accorded step-motherly treatment by the BJP.
Latching on to the remarks, the Sena (UBT) claimed that 22 MLAs and nine MPs are feeling suffocated because of step-motherly treatment by the BJP and have made up their minds to quit the grouping. The Shiv Sena faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and the BJP jointly share power in Maharashtra.
The dissatisfaction within the Sena group in the NDA is believed to stem from the fact that the party wants the arrangement it had with the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 to continue in the 2024 polls as well. In the last elections, the undivided Shiv Sena contested 22 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.
Fadnavis dismisses Sena’s claim
Fadnavis, meanwhile, has dismissed the Uddhav Sena’s claims of dissatisfaction among members of the Shinde Sena. “The entire Thackeray faction is dissatisfied. The kind of dissatisfaction which is there is nowhere else,” he said when asked about claims by leaders of the Thackeray faction that 22 MLAs and 9 MPs of the Shinde faction are in touch with them.
The Shinde Sena too distanced from the claims of Uddhav faction leader Vinayak Raut. “Can Vinayak Raut see the future? Does he know face-reading? He says anything. There is no fact to what he says. We are all satisfied. Under the leadership of CM Eknath Shinde, we are working well. Vinayak Raut keeps saying things like this, we don’t pay attention to him,” said Maharashtra minister and Shinde faction leader Shambhuraj Desai.