As he was going through a bitter break-up with the BJP, Uddhav Thackeray phoned his estranged cousin and political rival, Raj Thackeray, said sources. The twice-in-one-week pings have some within the parties of the Thackerays hoping for a newer, fuzzier relationship.
Uddhav heads the Shiv Sena, whose 25-year-alliance with the BJP crashed and burned on Thursday over the upcoming Maharashtra elections. The Sena and the BJP were unable to agree on how many seats each side should get.
Sources close to Uddhav, 54, say that in the last week, as things were coming undone with the BJP, he phoned Raj, 46. They add that “there was nothing political” and that the cousins talked of Raj’s health – he was reportedly sick with malaria and also fell ill during a recent visit to Aurangabad.
While Uddhav’s first call to Raj was placed before his split with the BJP was formalised, the second one was made after, said sources.
Raj was seen as the political heir of Sena founder Bal Thackeray. But when Balasaheb, as he was known, selected his son Uddhav as his successor, Raj exited the family fold to launch the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena or MNS.
Uddhav and Raj, who were seen publicly together when Bal Thackeray died in November 2012, have since then rejected all speculation of a political or familial reconciliation.
In the last state election in 2009, Raj’s MNS performed strongly for a start-up, eating into the right-wing vote traditionally accrued by the collaboration between the Sena and the BJP.
So ahead of this year’s national election, the BJP requested Raj to sit out the contest. He refused, but his MSN failed to win any of the 10 seats it fought.