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PM Modi calls up Uddhav Thackeray, thanks him for support in Rajya Sabha election

The phone call is being viewed as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s second attempt to mend ties with its bickering ally Shiv Sena.

mumbai Updated: Aug 11, 2018 05:45 IST
Swapnil Rawal
Swapnil Rawal
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Prime Minister Narendra Modi,Shiv Sena,Uddhav Thackeray
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at the Samyukta Maharashtra Memorial Museum near Shivaji Park in Mumbai recently. (Vijayanand Gupta/ HT Photo)

In a rare gesture, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called up Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and thanked him for his party’s support to the NDA candidate, Harivansh Narayan Singh, who was elected as Rajya Sabha deputy chairman on Thursday. The phone call is now viewed as Bharatiya Janata Party’s second attempt to mend ties with its bickering ally Shiv Sena.

Senior Sena leaders said the “courtesy call” lasted for more than five minutes, and the two did not discuss politics. Anil Desai, Sena secretary and Rajya Sabha MP, said there was no discussion other than thanking Thackeray for the support. “The call was for a specific purpose… A request was made earlier [to support the NDA candidate], which was acceded to by Uddhavji,” Desai said.

But if sources are to be believed, the Sena is unlikely to soften its acerbic stance against state and Central governments. Desai said the call should not be viewed as a thaw in the ties between the two parties. He said, “Such relations should have been maintained throughout the last four years. It was not there.”

Earlier in the week, BJP national president Amit Shah had called Thackeray to seek Sena’s support for the RS election, following which Thackeray vowed his support. Sena leaders and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said the support to the NDA candidate was lent because the post was “apolitical”.

The Sena has been taking on the BJP on a regular basis on issues in Maharashtra or in the country. It has repeatedly criticised the policies and decisions of the BJP-led government.

BJP’s first attempt to sort out differences with the Sena happened in June when Shah met Thackeray at the latter’s residence in Mumbai and started discussion to forge an alliance for the 2019 elections. However, there have been no follow-up meetings after that as decided by the two leaders.

First Published: Aug 11, 2018 05:44 IST