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Will Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray change his mind over Narayan Rane’s inclusion?

After the meeting, Uddhav Thackeray seemed a bit softened towards the BJP

mumbai Updated: Nov 21, 2017 00:16 IST
Shailesh Gaikwad
Shailesh Gaikwad
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra,Maharashtra politics,Shiv Sena
After the meeting, Thackeray seemed a bit softened towards the BJP.(FILE)

The developments on Monday – a half-an-hour-long closed-door meeting between chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, followed by Narayan Rane’s visit to CM’s residence and Fadnavis heading to Ahmedabad to meet BJP chief Amit Shah -- led to speculations over the former chief minister’s much-talked about entry into the state cabinet.

Last month, Fadnavis had indicated that Rane’s induction along with state cabinet’s expansion would happen post-Diwali and before the winter session of the state legislature. A month after Diwali and three weeks ahead of the winter session, there was no news about the expansion. In fact, developments on last Friday were seen contrary to what was being expected. On Sena founder the late Bal Thackeray’s fifth death anniversary on Friday, Fadnavis made it a point to visit Thackeray’s memorial at Shivaji Park. He attended a small function organized by a government-appointed committee to develop Thackeray’s memorial at mayor’s Bungalow and later had a half-an-hour long meeting with Uddhav Thackeray.

After the meeting, Thackeray seemed a bit softened towards the BJP. He chose not to criticise the government over firing at sugarcane farmers in Ahmednagar on November 15, which was in sharp contrast to what the Sena has been doing -- leaving no opportunity to target the BJP governments in the state or at the Centre. Thackeray also indicated he was unlikely to campaign against the BJP in Gujarat, where the Sena is fielding candidates.

In political circles, these developments led to speculations whether the Sena was happy with Fadnavis for preventing or at least delaying Rane’s inclusion in the state cabinet. Thackeray has been strongly opposed to his bete noire Rane entering the state cabinet.

A section in the BJP was also pointing out that the party top brass has been busy with Assembly elections in Gujarat and as such the decision on cabinet expansion in Maharashtra could be taken after the elections in the neighbouring state. Some Sena leaders, too, wanted the expansion to be postponed till the Gujarat election results were declared. Their logic was the BJP’s attitude towards allies may change if it suffers a setback in Gujarat.

The developments on Monday, however, indicate there could be an expansion of the cabinet in the coming days. Does that mean Fadnavis has managed to convince Thackeray to let Rane — technically a BJP ally -- be part of the state cabinet?

In any case, several equations in Maharashtra politics are set to change if the BJP goes ahead with Rane’s inclusion. Will Sena, especially Thackeray, forgive Rane or will it plan an exit from the National Democratic Alliance? The rumours about the same have been around ever since NCP chief Sharad Pawar disclosed that Thackeray met him and seemed upset with the BJP. On the other hand, if Fadnavis manages to broker peace between Thackeray and Rane, the NCP would be forced to return to the Congress-led UPA camp. Already, Pawar has started praising Gandhi family’s role in India’s politics.

Countering the selfie-attack

Recently, public works minister Chandrakant Patil had to face an attack of selfies, after NCP MP Supriya Sule started a ‘selfie with potholes’ campaign to highlight the issue. In response to her appeal, a large number of NCP workers clicked their selfies with potholes on roads and posted on Twitter, tagging Patil. Irked with it, Patil has now asked public works department officers to click pictures of the road repair work and post it on Twitter. He makes it a point to retweet these pics.

First Published: Nov 21, 2017 00:14 IST