Former BJP president Nitin Gadkari's offer to Raj Thackeray not to field candidates in Lok Sabha polls may not have elicited any response from the MNS chief but has ruffled feathers of ally Shiv Sena which said the move reflects badly on continuation of the alliance. "If a senior leader from BJP supports Raj or Sharad Pawar, it can affect the alliance...It can affect the 'Mahayuti' (grand alliance) if a senior leader from BJP meets Raj Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar," Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said, reacting to yesterday's meeting between Gadkari and Raj.
Expressing confidence that his party holds sway over the Marathi electorate, Raut said, "Marathi votes will remain with Shiv Sena only. Nobody can dare take it away from us." Gadkari, who enjoys a good rapport with Raj Thackeray, had yesterday met at a suburban five-star hotel, triggering speculation that BJP was trying to win over the MNS chief into NDA for upcoming elections even as he said there was no reason for
Shiv Sena to be annoyed by his meeting with Raj.
BJP state chief Devendra Fadnavis, who met Uddhav last night, defended the meeting between Gadkari and Raj. "Gadkariji is our national leader. He can meet anybody whom he wants," he said.
Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' today quoted party president Uddhav Thackeray saying there was a "communication gap" within the BJP. "There is a communication gap in BJP. Those within the BJP who are praising Congress-NCP leaders are responsible for creating a communication gap. It is the internal matter of the BJP but the Mahayuti is determined to unseat the Congress-NCP government," Uddhav said.
MNS group leader in state Assembly Bala Nandgaonkar said Raj Thackeray would declare the party's stance on Gadkari's offer at an appropriate time. NCP leader and Home Minister R R Patil ruled out BJP-MNS tie up, saying "people in UP and Bihar won't accept BJP supporting a known anti-migrant outfit."