In order to avert the division of Marathi votes, former BJP Chief Nitin Gadkari had met Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray. The MNS had played spoilsport in the 2009 Lok Sabha election by splitting the anti-Congress votes which paved way for the Congress-NCP’s victory. Ever since Gadkari met Raj speculations are rife whether Raj will join the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)? The saffron party has been trying to woo the MNS to consolidate its vote bank. Gadkari, who is said to enjoy a good rapport with Raj Thackeray, met him at a suburban hotel in Mumbai and appealed him to abstain from contesting the Lok Sabha election to prevent the division of anti-Congress votes.
“I discussed with the MNS chief the ways to get rid of the Congress government. There is no reason for Uddhav Thackeray to be annoyed over my meeting Raj… I meet everybody including Congress people” Gadkari said.
Sources from BJP claimed that that party is worried that if the MNS contests the upcoming Lok Sabha election then it will affect the saffron party’s poll prospects. Hence the party is trying their best to lure the MNS. The MNS might ally with the BJP-led coalition for the Maharashtra state elections, due in October.
This is not the first instance when Nitin Gadkari has approached Raj Thackeray to join NDA. Earlier, Gadkari had attended the ground-breaking ceremony of Goda Park, which is said to be the dream project of Raj Thackeray, in Nashik where MNS is at helm with the support of BJP and convinced him to join an alliance with NDA.
On the other hand, Shiv Sena is unhappy with the Gadkari and Raj meeting as it would prove to be detrimental to the BJP-Sena alliance.
Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said, “There is no room for another party in the alliance. We had extended our hand when MNS had refused it. As an alliance, we are strong enough to defeat the Congress government. If senior leader from BJP meets Raj for forming an alliance then it will have an adverse affect on the Mahayuthi alliance.”
Moreover, even BJP party workers too were unhappy with Gadkari’s meeting with Raj Thackeray. The BJP’s Core Committee meeting was cancelled because sources claimed that Gopinath Munde is upset with Nitin Gadkari after he met Raj.
Home Minister RR Patil criticised Gadkari’s meeting with Raj. He asked if the MNS forms an alliance with NDA then what message will BJP send to the voters of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar who were targetted by the MNS over the Marathi Manoos issue.