April 10, 2017 1:30:46 am
Two days after Air India and other airlines lifted their ban on Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, party president Uddhav Thackeray is set to attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dinner for NDA allies on Monday in New Delhi. Sources in the Sena said BJP president Amit Shah called up Thackeray on Thursday, requesting him to attend the dinner. This will be the first time Uddhav meets Modi and Shah in Delhi, after attending the Union cabinet’s swearing-in ceremony in May 2014, said sources in the Sena.
Arvind Sawant, Shiv Sena MP and spokesperson, confirmed that the party president would attend the NDA dinner in Delhi on April 10. However, it is not yet clear whether the Sena leader in the Lok Sabha would accompany Uddhav. “We have been given to understand that the dinner is for party chiefs of alliance partners. So, only Uddhav ji will attend it,” said a Sena leader, adding that if it was so decided later on, the Sena’s group leader in the Lok Sabha may join Thackeray.
Sources said the PM is also expected to seek the BJP allies’ views on the presidential election in July. The BJP needs the Sena’s support to gets its candidate into the Rashtrapati Bhavan, said a Sena leader.
Uddhav’s move of attending Modi’s dinner assumes political significance in the light of the recent bitterness between the two allies over various issues, including the ban on Gaikwad. Senior Sena leader and MP Sanjay Raut had even threatened to boycott the dinner if the Osmanabad MP was not allowed to fly.
The BJP’s dinner invite is also seen as an attempt to pacify the Sena, which has joined the opposition parties to protest against the government over several issues in both Maharashtra and at the Centre. A Sena leader said this would put an end to the talks of mid-term polls likely in the state.
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