BJP president Amit Shah walked an extra mile to mend the fences with its alliance partner in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena, on Thursday to ensure that the ‘Mahauti’ — the grand alliance that helped the party to sweep the state in the recent Lok Sabha elections — remains intact in the 2014 Assembly polls.
In return, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray assured the BJP chief that his party will not be rigid during the seat-sharing talks.
In a bid to strengthen the alliance, which has been under strain in the recent months, Shah swung into a damage control exercise soon after reaching Mumbai through symbolic gestures like paying floral tribute to Bal Thackeray at Shivaji Park and then visiting Uddhav at his Matoshree residence on the invitation from the Sena chief.
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Shah also issued a stern and clear message to party workers, critical of the ally, saying “the Sena-BJP grand alliance is here to stay”. “I can guarantee that it will win the elections… Let nobody get overworked about what is the seat-sharing formula or issues related to the elections. Leave those issues of seat negotiations to the leaders. We are here to address the issues. The workers should know well that the grand alliance will go ahead in the (Assembly) polls to dislodge the corrupt Congress and NCP government,” he said while addressing party workers earlier in the day.
At a public meeting in Dadar, Shah emphatically mentioned the name of Bal Thackeray amongst the several great leaders and reformers in Maharashtra along with Chhatrapati Shivaji, Jyotiba Phule, B R Ambedkar.
Ahead of Shah’s daylong visit, there were speculations whether he would meet Sena chief. However, 12 hours ahead of the visit, Uddhav spoke to Shah over phone and invited him to Matoshree, to which he readily agreed. Interestingly, throughout the day Sena leaders remained silent, refusing to comment on the developments.