Just days after the Shiv Sena-BJP relationship hit its biggest roadblock so far, in the form of the Palghar bypolls outcome, BJP chief Amit Shah met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at Thackeray’s home in Mumbai on Wednesday, 6 June.
The meeting came just days after the Shiv Sena turned hostile towards the BJP, alleging EVM tampering in the Palghar bypolls.
The polls culminated in the Sena threatening to take the Election Commission to court following the poll results.
Sena-BJP Alliance Tearing at the Seams
The Shiv Sena had alleged that the BJP had tampered with voting machines to bag a win in the Palghar Lok Sabha constituency, an area that they maintained was a Sena stronghold.
Shah’s meeting with Thackeray comes in the middle of the Sena making clear, in no uncertain terms, that it intends to separate from the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in Maharashtra.
Shah’s meeting with Thackeray, is being seen as an attempt by the BJP to woo the Shiv Sena which has been openly critical of senior BJP leaders.
The BJP-Sena alliance has been on thin ice after the Shiv Sena announced in late 2017 that they would contest the 2019 elections without an alliance with the saffron party.
Sena: BJP’s Allies Deserting Them One After the other
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut also questioned the need for Shah to meet Thackeray after a gap of four years.
However, senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said, on 5 June, that Shah's meet with Thackeray was simply a part of the party's 'Sampark for Samarthan' (contact for support) nationwide campaign and that it has nothing to do with the recent Lok Sabha bypolls in Palghar and Bhandara-Gondiya seats in Maharashtra.
Raut said the Sena showed it can go into the poll battle alone by contesting the recent Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll, despite the fact that it was defeated.
We showed that we can fight alone when we contested the Palghar bypoll. We may have lost, however, the message has been sent across. We received lakhs of votes (in Palghar) where we had never contested an election.Sanjay Raut, MP, Shiv Sena
In the 28 May Lok Sabha bypoll, Shiv Sena candidate, Shrinivas Wanaga, secured 2,43,210 votes but lost to BJP's Rajendra Gavit by a margin of 29,572 votes.
Raut said the NDA allies were one after the other deserting the BJP.
There was angst against the BJP, thus the party might have started a reconciliatory measure, he said.
Asked if the Sena will continue with its stand of going solo in all the forthcoming elections, Raut said party chief Thackeray had taken a call on not forging an alliance after due considerations.
"This decision was taken keeping people's sentiments in mind. I don't think there will be any change in this stand," the Rajya Sabha member said.
BJP Downplays First Meeting Between Shah and Thackeray in Four Years
Amit Shah is touring the entire country as part of the BJP’s ‘Sampark for Samarthan’ programme. His meet with Uddhav also is a part of this programme. Along with the Sena president, he will be meeting around 15 to 20 people from different sectors of society.Sudhir Mungantiwar, BJP leader
"This meet has nothing to do with any bypolls. It is an outreach effort for 2019 (elections)," he added.
Amit Shah Meets Ratan Tata, Madhuri Dixit, Lata Mangeshkar, and More
Shah also met industrialist Ratan Tata in Mumbai as part of his party's "contact for support" campaign ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, BJP state unit chief Raosaheb Danve and other party leaders were also present at the meet held at Tata's residence in south Mumbai.
During the meeting, which lasted about 30 minutes, Shah discussed the achievements and initiatives of the Modi government in the last four years.
On his arrival, this afternoon, Shah had a brief meeting with Fadnavis, Danve, state minister Vinod Tawde and organisation secretary Vijay Puranik at Rangsharda in suburban Bandra.
Shah also met with actor Madhuri Dixit. Shah at her residence in suburban Mumbai as part of the saffron party's "Sampark se Samarthan" (Contact for Support) campaign.
During the meeting that lasted for around 40 minutes, Shah presented a booklet containing the achievements of the BJP-led central government in the last four years to the Bollywood icon.
Dixit's husband Sriram Nene, a surgeon, was also present during the meeting.
He did not speak to the reporters who had assembled outside Dixit's residence in Juhu.
(With inputs from PTI)