Even as Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena on Tuesday denied reports about any rift with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), it has sought clarification from the saffron party over its stand on the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
New channel CNN-IBN reported citing sources that the Sena has warned the BJP that it does not come clean over MNS, it will field all 48 candidates from Maharashtra.
Party insiders have indicated that the meeting between BJP's Nitin Gadkar with MNS chief Raj Thackeray had pushed the BJP in a piquant situation over its relationship with Shiv Sena, considering the MNS is Sena's rival in Maharashtra.
"The meeting with Raj Thackeray was not taken in good taste and has strained ties with Shiv Sena, which is an old partner of the party in Maharashtra.There is no question of a tie-up with any other partner in the state as BJP values its alliance with Shiv Sena. The attempt of sending an emissary is to placate the Shiv Sena and fine tune the alliance," a senior BJP leader told PTI.
Earlier, Maharashtra BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis met Uddhav Thackeray who said that he conveyed to him that the BJP considers the Sena a natural and trusted ally.
In further attempt to placate the Sena, BJP's Maharashtra in-charge Rajiv Pratap Rudy will also meet Uddhav to reassure its ally and fine tune the tie-up in the state.
Sources said BJP appointed party's general secretary Rudy to meet the Shiv Sena chief and remove misgivings that may have arisen after a meeting between Gadkari and Raj Thackeray, Uddhav's estranged cousin.
Though the Shiv Sena has in its in-house journal Saamana said the ties with the BJP are intact and there is no discord between the two, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav has convened a meeting of his party's office bearers in Mumbai today to chalk out their strategy ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
"Our alliance with the BJP is the oldest in the country's politics for the Hindutva. It has weathered many storms. The alliance remained strong despite various attempts from a number of people, even from insiders," an editorial in the party mouthpiece Saamana said.
BJP sources said Rudy will be meeting Uddhav at 7pm to discuss the poll strategy and reassure him on the alliance.
The Sena editorial also praised BJP's prime ministerial pick Narendra Modi saying he is getting support from all across the nation today.
"It's almost as if there is a derby race on to give him backing. Even those who abused him yesterday are today chanting Modi Modi. No bigger proof of changing times."
Gadkari had requested Raj Thackeray in a meeting not to contest polls to avoid a split between the anti-Congress votes and the Sena had warned the BJP saying that any talks with the MNS will affect their alliance.
The party mouthpiece had attacked Gadkari and called him a businessman after the meeting.
"Former BJP president Nitin Gadkari's specialty is such that without giving any 'dakshina' or 'toll' he has proposed that MNS chief back him or give support. In politics there wouldn't have been such a mast (sweet) deal! Nitin Gadkari's businessman instincts should be credited for such a deal. As if the weighing scale is also his, the products are also his and even the earning are also his."
In Tuesday's editorial, the Sena also attacked the MNS without naming the party.
"The efforts of some to break the alliance and split the Hindu vote has gone in vain. There were differences at times as well, but the alliance survived all that."
Raj Thackeray had on Sunday backed Modi even as he went against the saffron party's wishes and announced he would be contesting the Lok Sabha elections.
The MNS contested 12 seats in the 2009 general elections, winning none but polling over a lakh votes in nine constituencies in the Mumbai-Pune-Nashik belt.
These are the same areas where the MNS is contesting this time as well and where the Sena-BJP combine is hoping to win a few seats.
(With PTI inputs)