Indian Express

Shiv Sena says ties with BJP strong

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Seeking to downplay speculation that it was reviewing its alliance with BJP, Shiv Sena on Tuesday said the bond between the two parties was “strong” and there was need for worry even as the Maharashtra BJP president met Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai.

Sena made its stand clear in the wake of speculation that the party may review its longstanding alliance with the BJP after arch rival MNS declared that it would challenge the Sena in all seats in Lok Sabha polls, but will support Narendra Modi’s candidacy as Prime Minister.

An editorial in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana said on Tuesday, “The alliance between the Shiv Sena and BJP is the oldest in the country… nobody needs to worry, it is strong… The BJP and Shiv Sena came together to strengthen Hindutva.”

In a related development, Maharashtra BJP President Devendra Fadnavis met Uddhav.

“I conveyed to Uddhavji that BJP considers Sena its natural and trusted ally,” Fadnavis said after the meeting.

“BJP cadres will work only for Mahayuti (the five party grand opposition alliance led by Sena BJP),” Fadnavis said, after meeting Uddhav at the latter’s residence Matoshree in suburban Bandra.

The Maharashtra Narvnirman Sena is an offshoot of the Shiv Sena, headed by Uddhav’s cousin Raj Thackeray. The two parties have fought bitterly for largely the same constituency in the last few elections, which has helped the rival Congress-NCP combine become stronger in the state.

BJP leader Nitin Gadkari had recently met Raj Thackeray in Mumbai, to suggest that the MNS not contest the general elections to avoid dividing opposition votes.

After meeting the Sena chief, Fadnavis tweeted, “Met Uddhavji at Matoshree. Conveyed him that BJP considers Shiv Sena its natural and trusted ally. BJP cadre will work only for ‘Mahayuti.”

Speaking to reporters ahead of the meeting, Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said, “Uddhavji has called us (office bearers and Lok Sabha Sena candidates) for the meeting to discuss poll strategy.”

“All the big leaders of BJP are in contact with Uddhavji,” he said.

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