With an eye on the Gujarati vote, Uddhav Thackeray and Hardik Patel put up a joint show on Tuesday, with the Patidar leader endorsing the Shiv Sena’s work in Mumbai and calling himself a fan of the late Bal Thackeray.
The leader of Gujarat’s Patel quota movement, who is a major critic of the Narendra Modi-led government, said the Sena is capable of heading into the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections by itself and does not need anyone’s support.
“A tiger is a tiger whether in a cage or on the loose. He has the same qualities and capabilities. The Shiv Sena is capable of contesting in Mumbai on its own strength,” said Patel at a joint press conference.
Uddhav hinted at the possibility of a tie-up with Patel for the Gujarat assembly polls later this year.
“Why can’t he (Patel) be Shiv Sena’s face for the polls? But nothing has been decided or discussed yet. This was just our first meeting and everything cannot be discussed in one meeting,” he said.
Though Patel denied he would campaign for the Sena, the Patidar agitation leader said he would support the party whenever required.
The Sena, which has been in an alliance with the BJP in Maharashtra since 1995, recently split from its partner. Although the tie-up will remain at the state level, the parties are gunning for each other in the election to the BMC, the country’s richest municipal body. This is the first time that the two parties are contesting the civic polls independently, and the Gujarati vote is a key factor in at least 40 of the 227 seats.
The Gujarat leader’s support is expected to be a shot in the arm for the Sena, which has been trying to woo the community by inducting influential leaders, poaching from the BJP and attempting to project a cosmopolitan image rather than a strictly pro-Marathi one.
Earlier in the day, Patel called on Uddhav at his residence, where the two had an hour-long chat.
“Hardikbhai and Uddhav ji discussed their respective views on fight against social injustice and the way forward,” tweeted Uddhav’s son Aaditya Thackeray, who heads the Shiv Sena’s youth wing.