March 18, 2018 3:58:55 am
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president Raj Thackeray on Saturday held a meeting with Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar. The meeting assumes significance as it comes ahead of the public rally Thackeray will address on “Gudi Padwa” (Maharashtrian New Year) on Sunday. The meeting took place at Pawar’s residence in south Mumbai.
Both NCP and MNS described the meeting as a courtesy call. Thackeray said, “There was no political agenda in the meeting with NCP president Sharad Pawar. I had not visited him after our interview. So I just paid a visit.” Last month, Thackeray had interviewed Pawar in presence of a large audience in Pune. NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Mallik said, “It was just a courtesy call. There was nothing political in the meeting.”
Notwithstanding the explanation given by both the parties, observers hinted at political overtones in the meeting. Highly placed sources said, “There is a possibility that Pawar is trying to cobble together all anti-BJP forces in Maharashtra ahead of the next big elections in 2019.” However, both NCP and MNS ruled out electoral alliances at the moment. MNS has been finding itself on the backfoot as its electoral strength has diminished both in the state Assembly and local bodies. Thackeray’s rally in Mumbai is an effort to revive the organisation.
MNS general secretary Shalini Thackeray said, “Every Gudi Padwa, we will hold a rally. On this occasion, the MNS president will address the people.” On what he would be speaking about, she said, “The government has made huge promises which have remained on paper. It has not helped people.”
Last week, Thackeray announced a membership drive. He had also declared that he would tour the state in April-May. At present, Sharad Sonawane is the lone MNS member in the state Assembly. In the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), six out of seven MNS corporators recently switched sides to join the Shiv Sena. Interestingly, a day after meeting Raj Thackeray, Pawar will be sharing a common platform with Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday.
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