A day after reports on the Thackeray cousins arriving at a truce for the Assembly election after the BJP-Shiv Sena break-up, both Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) pitched candidates against each other.
This put an end to the speculation that the two might join hands ahead of the October 15 elections.
Leaders from both the camps said the brothers have been in touch indirectly, with Raj Thackeray sending Uddhav flowers after the Lok Sabha win and Uddhav calling to ask about Raj’s health.
But they denied any active pre-poll developments. However, they did indicate that both parties may come together for a post-poll alliance or help each other at the level of civic bodies.
Both the parties have pitted heavyweights against each other in several areas, especially Marathi bastions, where the two have a significant voter base.
MNS leader and legislator from Shivdi, Bala Nadgaonkar filed his nomination on Saturday. His strong opponent is Ajay Choudhury, the local Sena leader who has been countering MNS in the Marathi bastion in Central Mumbai. The Sena has also put up former legislator Sada Sarvankar to fight against MNS sitting legislator Nitin Sardesai in Mahim.
On Saturday, MNS even poached on former Sena mayor Shubha Raul, who filed nomination against Sena’s Dahisar heavyweight legislator Vinod Ghosalkar. This has angered the Sena leaders.
Nandgaonkar ruled out any pre-poll make-up. “We have come out of the Sena and will fight on our own. There have been relations between us at the corporation-level and that is being discussed for the future,” he said.
“It is true that Uddhavji did get in touch with Raj to enquire about his health. Similarly, many of us also inquired about him.
The two Thackerays are brothers and they do talk to each other, which isn’t wrong. About the issue of talks, only Uddhavji will be able to tell you more,” said Sena MP Sanjay Raut.
Sena is adopting a wait- and-watch approach till October 19, the day of the Assembly results, to take tough decisions. If the BJP backs out in money-spinning corporations like the BMC, it will need to take help from the MNS to keep its power in place.
Significantly, in his campaign rally on Saturday, Uddhav avoided any criticism of MNS.