HindustanTimes Mon,20 Oct 2014

Sena in damage-control mode after pushing its luck too far

Sayli Udas Mankikar, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, September 05, 2014
First Published: 00:58 IST(5/9/2014) | Last Updated: 14:55 IST(11/9/2014)

On Wednesday afternoon, a Shiv Sena leader leaked an Internet meme taunting BJP president Amit Shah for not scheduling a meeting at Matoshree, a tradition which has been set and followed by senior BJP leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani by meeting Sena chief Bal Thackeray.

An hour later, the message had reached the BJP leadership, made them angry, and left the Sena in damage-control mode.

To repair the damage that had been done, hectic calls were made directly by Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to Shah, surpassing the regular route through his personal assistant, once on Wednesday evening, and another on Thursday morning.

According to Sena sources, Thackeray realised he has stretched it too far and considering that the alliance is at a striking distance from power, he did not want to take any chances. Also, with Narendra Modi ruling the Centre, and Shah being his trusted man, he did not want to rub the latter the wrong way.

The issue of whether Shah will meet Thackeray had heated up in the past week, following the deadlock between the two parties on seat sharing. The BJP had asked the Sena for more seats, considering their performance in Lok Sabha, but the Sena refused to budge from the 169-119 formula followed during the 2009 polls.

Sources claim Thackeray, who had assumed the BJP leader would come to meet him, was taken aback when the BJP’s official programme did not mention a visit to Matoshree. Senior BJP leaders claim Shah was never too stubborn to meet Thackeray, but he expected the Sena to treat him as an equal.

“Gone are the days when senior BJP leaders would rush to meet Bal Thackeray out of respect. Today things are in our favour and the Sena needs to accept it. We won 23 seats in the Lok Sabha compared with their 18 seats,” a senior BJP leader said.

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