Maharashtra BJP chief meets Raj Thackeray

No talk of a tie-up: Chandrakant Patil

Maharashtra Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Chandrakant Patil on Friday held a meeting with Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray, giving rise to speculation about a possible tie-up as elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are due next year.

Mr. Patil said after the meeting that though they discussed politics, there was no talk of an alliance between them. The BJP leader, however, said the two “Hindus” would soon meet.

Mr. Patil said, “As an individual, I have told him that the people of Maharashtra want to see him as their leader. The infrastructure available with the MNS may delay that from happening for some time. Therefore, he needs to join hands with someone with bigger resources. But there was no discussion on this.”

The BJP leader also said that he conveyed his reservations about Mr. Thackeray and his stand on non-Marathis, especially north Indians in the State.

“He had shown me his two-year-old speech that he made in front of the north Indians at Kandivali. I still had a few doubts, which I discussed with him. So, our talk was not about an alliance, but our political stand,” Mr. Patil said.

The BJP leader said, “Before two Marathis, two Hindus disperse after a meeting, they always decide to meet again. So did we. But this has no political meaning attached to it,” he said. The MNS, however, did not react to the meeting and said the details could not be revealed.

The Shiv Sena, headed by Mr. Raj Thackeray’s estranged cousin and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, has been controlling the BMC for over three decades. The BJP was in an alliance with the Sena in the civic body till 2017, when both the parties decided to contest independently.

Now, with the Sena joining hands with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, the BJP is looking for an ally to counter the Sena in the Marathi-dominated areas of Mumbai.

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