Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday visited the Thackeray residence Matoshree in Bandra (East) to display his unwavering loyalty to the Shiv Sena.
After spending 40 minutes with acting Sena president Uddhav Thackeray’s entire family, Modi, who was accompanied by deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde and leader of Opposition in state council Vinod Tawde, tried to strike a political balance by making a telephone call to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray to offer his condolences while being driven to the airport.
Setting aside the veiled differences that cropped in the last phase of the Thackeray-Modi politics, the Gujarat CM described the late Sena chief as the undisputed Hindu Hriday Samrat whose connect with the masses at the grass roots will remain unparalleled in the country.
“The ocean of humanity at Thackeray’s funeral procession was a certificate from the people for the relentless work undertaken by Sena chief in the last 46 years of his sociopolitical career,” said Modi,
A BJP member said: “Modi, who is in the midst of the crucial Gujarat assembly elections, has always been mesmerised by the Sena Tiger. He thought it was his personal duty to spend some time with the family.”
Political managers in BJP recalled that when the country turned against Modi after the Godhra massacre, Thackeray alone extended moral support to him.
But when ever the Sena and BJP relations soured over seat- sharing ahead of polls, BJP leaders would taunt Sena by propping Modi as the Hindu Hriday Samrat. The BJP also tried to keep Sena on the edge by wooing Raj Thackeray, who had undertaken a 10-day tour to promote Gujarat last year.
The last blow to Modi came when Thackeray said that leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj could be a good prime ministerial candidate of the NDA. A section in BJP perceived the move as an attempt by the Sena to undermine Modi’s stature for the post.