WITH BJP’s ties with its oldest ally under strain, party president Amit Shah had a one-on-one meeting with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on the sidelines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dinner for 33 NDA allies on Monday.
Organised at the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra, in Chanakyapuri here, this was the first meeting of the allies at this scale since the Modi government took office three years ago.
Thackeray’s presence at the dinner in the wake of the Sena’s poor performance in the recent Maharashtra municipal polls, which the Sena and BJP contested separately, and its sudden pitch for Mohan Bhagwat as a Presidential candidate is seen as an attempt to mend relations with the BJP. The Sena has already made clear its intention of going with BJP’s choice for President.
The Shah-Thackeray meeting is expected to smoothen the kinks of the past few months.
The allies reiterated their resolve to continue the coalition and fight the 2019 elections as a composite unit. The meeting started with an address by Shah and concluded with one by Modi.
Representatives of all alliance partners spoke at the meeting.
Briefing the media, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the issue of the Presidential elections did not come up in the meeting. “In the three years of the NDA government, the NDA itself has expanded,” Jaitley said. “The popularity of the Central government has increased…” He said a resolution was passed during the meeting on the “increasing popularity of NDA, and one on the welfare policies of the government”.
Andhra Pradesh CM and TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu said NDA constituents should hold more such meetings. He said, “This is the first time a majority government has formed without the Congress. India’s stature in foreign countries has increased. There has been no corruption in these three years,” he said.