After bypolls broaden rift, Amit Shah to meet Udhav Thackeray tomorrow
In a major development ahead of the 2019 general elections, BJP national president Amit Shah will meet Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray tomorrow in Mumbai. The meeting is seen as a rare effort to reach out to its oldest but most aggressively critical alliance partner.
The meeting is being viewed as significant as it comes days after the two bickering allies contested the Palghar bypolls separately.
The move is being seen as an attempt by the BJP to reach out to the sulking ally which has been openly criticising senior BJP leaders.
“Amit Shah sought time to meet Uddhavji. Accordingly, an appointment of tomorrow evening has been given to him,” Sena MP Sanjay Raut told news agency PTI.
According to reports, Amit Shah will meet Uddhav Thackeray around 6 pm at the latter’s residence ‘Matoshree’.
The BJP chief is in Mumbai for a “Sampark for Samarthan” or contact for support, one of his outreach efforts ahead of the 2019 national election.
Ties between the BJP and the Shiv Sena – who have been co-governing Maharashtra since 2014 – have touched a low over the past few years. Amid daily attacks at the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Sena has declared that it will go it alone in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Recent by-polls in which the two parties contested separately in Maharashtra – the BJP beat the Shiv Sena in the Palghar parliamentary seat – have worsened a bad relationship, with the Sena describing the BJP as its “biggest political enemy”.
Despite the defeat in Palghar, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut told the media, “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.”
The country is in a state of mind that “can accept the Congress or (Janata Dal Secular’s HD) Deve Gowda but not PM Modi and Amit Shah,” said Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut in a trenchant editorial.
“The Shiv Sena is the biggest political enemy of the BJP. The Sena’s radical Hinduism would prove problematic for the BJP,” he wrote in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’.
Raut also accused the BJP of using its resources to defeat the Sena in Palghar while “staying in power with the Sena’s help”.
Referring to the BJP’s setbacks in bypolls in other states – mainly Uttar Pradesh where it lost its third parliamentary seat, Kairana, this year – Raut wrote that “the bypoll results indicate the beginning of the BJP’s downfall.”
After the bypoll defeat, the BJP is believed to be keen on bridging the gap with allies who are becoming restless and more vocal.
In Bihar, Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) also suffered a defeat to the RJD, the party it dumped last year in favour of reviving ties with the BJP.
The JD(U) has said that Nitish Kumar must be the face of the BJP-led coalition in Bihar for the 2019 national elections, telegraphing that it does not believe the BJP can dictate terms anymore.