A day after his meeting with BJP leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Sunday said while there could be ideological difference between the former allies, they were not enemies.
The two-hour long meeting on Saturday between Raut and Fadnavis in a five-star hotel in Mumbai was the first time that senior leaders from the two parties had met face to face after an acrimonious post-poll break up of their alliance last year.
Raut said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray knew about his meeting with Fadnavis. “I met Devendra Fadnavis yesterday to discuss certain issues. He is a former CM and Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra and Bihar polls in charge for BJP. There can be ideological differences but we are not enemies. There are no personal disputes to settle,” he added.
“Meetings do keep taking place between the ruling and Opposition sides. When we were in power with the BJP, I used to meet Pawar saheb,” said the Rajya Sabha MP.
Fadnavis also played down the meeting. “Don’t attribute anything political to this meeting. We are not in hurry to return to power. The BJP has established itself as an aggressive Opposition party, taking up people’s cause very effectively,” he told mediapersons.
Maintaining that Maha Vikas Aghadi government would fall on its own, Fadnavis said BJP was in no mood to topple it. “We (the BJP) are in no hurry. The MVA will fall due to its own contradictions. We’ll see what is to be done when that happens. There is no reason for any discussion of forming an (alternative) government with Sena in BJP,” he said.
He added that the meeting was to discuss an interview for Sena mouthpiece Saamana of which Raut is the executive editor. “Raut wanted to interview me. The meeting was to discuss the interview. I put the condition that the entire interview should be unedited. And when he interviews, we will also have our camera to record the interview. Therefore, we decided to meet and discuss how the interview should proceed.”
Irrespective of the explanations, NCP president Sharad Pawar and state Congress president Balasaheb Thorat hotfooted it to Uddhav’s residence for a meeting.
After the meeting, Thorat appeared reassured that there was no political angle to the Raut-Fadnavis meeting and said it was being unnecessarily blown up by the media. “MP Sanjay Raut is also the editor of a newspaper. Editors are used to networking among people,” he said.
Sources said the formation of a joint strategy on the farm Bills was also discussed during the CM’s meeting with Pawar and Thorat. Within minutes of Pawar’s meeting with Uddhav, Raut congratulated the Shiromani Akali Dal for severing ties with the Narendra Modi-led NDA in protest against the farm Bills. “Shiv Sena appreciates Akali Dal’s decision to break its ties with the NDA in the interest of the farmers,” Raut tweeted.
Sending a message that the MVA was unified in its opposition to the legislations, Pawar, too, took to twitter to congratulate the Badals for “pulling out of the NDA”.
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