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Rajnath's message to MNS: Join NDA or merge with BJP

india Updated: Apr 08, 2014 22:51 IST
Yogesh Joshi

The parties that want to support Narendra Modi should either join the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) or merge with the BJP, Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday, apparently sending a strong message to MNS chief Raj Thackeray.

Raj, who parted with his late uncle Bal Thackeray's Shiv Sena in 2006, had praised BJP's prime minister nominee Modi in his recent campaigns.

On the other hand, the MNS fielded candidates against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) despite being requested not to do so by Nitin Gadkari.

Speaking at a party workers' meet in Pune on Tuesday, BJP president Singh accused the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) of deceiving the people over the issue of support to Modi. He, however, did not name the party.

Singh also called the BJP's two-decade-old alliance with the Shiv Sena an "atoot bandhan (unbreakable bonding)".

Singh's statement came after the Shiv Sena expressed resentment over ex-BJP chief Gadkari's meeting with Raj.

According to the MNS leader, Gadkari had asked him to join the NDA. But his estranged cousin and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray had poured cold waters on the plan, Raj had alleged.

Raj had also announced recently that the elected parliamentarians of the MNS would support Modi at the Centre.

Without naming the MNS, Singh said, "Some parties are chanting Narendra Modi's name, even though we have not asked for their support. Join the NDA or merge with the BJP to chant the slogan."

The MNS is contesting nine of the 48 constituencies in the state. It will take on the Shiv Sena in seven seats, while MNS candidates will challenge the BJP in the two other seats.

When asked if the BJP will accept support from the MNS after the polls, Singh said, "I am the president of party. Nobody has spoken to me (about the issue)."

Singh also said senior leader Gopinath Munde would be the agriculture minister if the BJP came to power.

He backtracked later at a press conference, saying, "It's the prime minister's prerogative to decide on the cabinet."

Businessman and real estate developer DS Kulkarni joined the BJP in the presence Singh. Kulkarni had contested the 2009 elections on a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ticket.