For the first time in nearly three months, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray amidst protests by some Sena activists at Bal Thackeray's memorial in Mumbai Monday.
Fadnavis with over half a dozen of his cabinet ministers and several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders arrived at the Thackeray memorial in Shivaji Park and paid homage to the late Sena founder-patriarch.
He laid a wreath at the memorial, paid homage and then walked over to the small marquee where Uddhav sat since morning along with his family members.
As Uddhav stood up, Fadnavis greeted him, warmly shook hands and sat beside him. The duo - belonging to parties which were allies for 25 years before they split September 25 - spoke for a few minutes before Fadnavis left.
"Bal Thackeray has been an inspiring force for us for years. His blessings have always been with us. There cannot be anybody like him ever. We have decided to set up a full-fledged memorial befitting his stature in Mumbai," Fadnavis announced.
He added that leaders of all political parties, including the Sena chief Uddhav, would be consulted before the details are finalized by a high-level committee headed by the state chief secretary.
While the CM and his ministerial colleagues paid homage and later met Uddhav, some Sena activists raised anti-BJP slogans and ranted "Fadnavis, go back". They were largely ignored.
In a rare sight, the two warring cousins - Uddhav Thackeray and Raj Thackeray - came together publicly on Monday to remember the late Shiv Sena founder-patriarch.
Cousins Uddhav and Raj come together at Bal Thackeray's memorial at Shivaji Park on his death anniversary. pic.twitter.com/e68DZuVS7Q— Kunal Purohit (@kunalpurohit) November 17, 2014
The Sena president reached the Thackeray Memorial with his family members at Shivaji Park in the morning to pay homage to his father and sat there receiving visitors.
Around 1.20pm, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray arrived along with some party officials and paid homage.
Thereafter, he went to a small marquee where Uddhav, with his younger son Tejas and other family members, and senior leaders were sitting.
Raj greeted and shook hands with everybody before reaching cousin Uddhav.
The two cousins smiled and shook hands warmly even as senior Shiv Sena leader and former leader of opposition Ramdas Kadam urged Raj to sit next to Uddhav.
The Shiv Sena MP and spokesperson immediately obliged by vacating his chair and Raj sat on Uddhav's left side, putting his right arm behind his cousin's chair.
The two were seen smiling, chatting like good old relatives separated only by political agendas.
Raj Thackeray had skipped the event last year.
Earlier, the two leaders met in private when Uddhav visited his teenager niece, Urvashi, Raj's daughter who met with a road accident last fortnight, and this is their first public appearance together in the past two years after Bal Thackeray's death.
Hundreds of thousands of Shiv Sainiks are expected to visit the memorial at Shivaji Park Monday for which elaborate arrangements have been put in place, said party secretary and MP Anil Desai.
Party officials estimate that over two lakh sainiks will offer their tributes to late Bal Thackeray.