Close on the heels of growing speculation in political circles that the Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) may come together after the Assembly elections, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has decided to skip a visit to the Pawar family’s bastion of Baramati during his campaign.
Thackeray will embark on a one-day tour of Pune district on Thursday. He will address six public rallies, but not a single one in Baramati, which has six assembly segments.
Sources in the Sena said party workers have been insisting he attend at least one meeting in the constituency to boost the morale of the party workers in Pune. Some workers are upset over the fact that Thackeray will address most of his meetings in Khed, which is represented by the Sena’s Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil. Thackeray will also address meetings in Pune and Maval.
Sena has fielded candidates in all six assembly segments of Baramati, even though no prominent leader has visited the constituency so far.
Vijay Shivtare, sitting Sena MLA from Purandar is fighting a tough battle to retain his seat, while Rajendra Kale has been pitted against Ajit Pawar from Baramati. Kale is an old timer in the Sena and has been leading various agitations in the constituency against the Pawars.
Sena sources, however, said there was no room in Uddhav’s schedule to visit Baramati. “Thackeray is not going to visit Pune district again,” said a Sena leader.
The Sena’s decision to stay away from Baramati has fuelled speculation that regional parties may come together against the BJP, particularly Modi, if Maharashtra has a hung Assembly.
Modi and Thackeray will address public meetings at the same time in the industrial township of Pimpri-Chinchwad, known as the NCP’s bastion. While Modi will address a public rally at Pimpri at 5pm, Thackeray will have a meeting at Bhosari at the same time.