A day before the grand National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rally against corruption, the Bharatiya Janata Party and Janata Dal (United) had to rush to quell speculation that an angry Shiv Sena would skip the event.
The context: Bal Thackeray’s estranged nephew and Shiv Sena’s arch-rival Raj Thackeray of the Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) had walked up to the BJP office in Mumbai and met party’s Maharashtra unit chief Sudhir Mungantiwar and party leader Ashok Tawade on Monday. This, the buzz went, angered the Sena and it conveyed to BJP it would not attend the rally, which is slated to be an NDA show of strength.
The BJP and JD (U), however, rushed to deny this.
“Yesterday, Raj Thackeray had a programme near our Maharashtra unit office. He came to meet our leaders as we have relations with him since he was with Shiv Sena. There were no political discussions...,” said BJP national president Nitin Gadkari. “I hope after the clarification, Shiv Sena will attend the rally. As far as politics is concerned, our alliance with Shiv Sena stands today.”
“Manohar Joshi is not well and Anant Geete of the Shiv Sena will attend the rally,” BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who is in-charge of the Delhi rally, told HT.
JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav also said the same. However, a BJP leader, on condition of anonymity, said the situation was not clear till evening. A JD (U) leader also confirmed the confusion, saying that if the Sena was not convinced overnight, one could not rule out their skipping the meet.