August 6, 2021 11:25:13 pm
State BJP president Chandrakant Patil called on Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray at his residence on Friday, fueling speculation of a possible tie-up between the two parties for the upcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections slated to be held next year. The BJP has been keen to wrest control of the BMC, Thane Municipal Corporation and Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Corporation from the Shiv Sena. The MNS has a sizable support base in these areas.
Both parties have, however, denied that the meeting was to discuss about the alliance.
A few days earlier too, Patil had met Raj Thackeray in Nashik where both were on a tour.
Soon after the meeting at Raj Thackeray’s Shivaji Park house on Friday morning, Patil said that there is no plan of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the MNS fighting elections together. “I have known Raj Saheb for 44 years since I was a student of Siddharth College in Mumbai. He is a flexible person, but also a little rigid. He is not selfish and he is one person who does not make compromises to attain his goal. I have always said that he must change his stand on outsiders,’’ said Patil.
Earlier, Patil had said that there would be no alliance until Raj Thackeray changes his views on people outside of Maharashtra, including North Indians.
On the prospect of another meeting between the two, Patil said, “When two Marathi Hindus come and meet each other, they always say that they will meet again.”
MNS leader and former MLA Bala Nandgaonkar said, “This was a goodwill visit. Patil had met Thackeray Saheb in Nashik. He said both parties were carrying out their respective programmes. There was no question of an alliance.’’
Once deemed to be an emerging force in the state, the political fortunes of Raj Thackeray-led MNS have been on a decline and it has only one representative in the state assembly. This is in sharp contrast to 2006, when the party, which was formed after splitting with the Shiv Sena, won 13 seats in the 2009 Assembly elections.
A one-time staunch supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Raj Thackeray had a fallout with the BJP after it came to power in 2014. In the run-up to 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the MNS chief was critical of the BJP and had campaigned for the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in the state.
The slapping of an Enforcement Directorate Notice on Thackeray in August 2019 subsequently led him to temper his attack on the BJP. It has since rebooted itself to position as a regional party espousing the cause of Hindutva.
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