To boost BJP ties with its alliance partners, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hosted National Democratic Alliance MPs over a tea at his residence here.
Among those present in the meeting were BJP’s veteran leaders LK Advani and MM Joshi, Cabinet Ministers Venkaiah Naidu, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Dr Harshvardhan, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Ram Vilas Paswan and BJP president Amit Shah.
This is for the first time the prime minister is interacting with all NDA MPs together after forming a government at Centre in May.
Moreover, NDA government’s schemes like Jan Dhan Yojana and gas and health are also likely to be discussed in the meeting.
The prime minister had invited Shiv Sena also along with other NDA MPs. As Shiv Sena had called off an alliance with the BJP before Maharashtra Assembly elections, the invitation to the party for high tea is being considered as a way to restrengthen the alliance.
As per reports, Shiv Sena’s lone representative in Modi’s Cabinet, Anant Geethe, is leading the delegation.
Shiv Sena, however, sought to clear the confusion over Uddhav Thackeray’s participation, saying since the event was only for the MPs belonging to the Centre’s ruling alliance, their leader will not go.
“I will attend it and so will all Sena MPs,” Shiv Sena’s lone member in the Narendra Modi government Anant Geete told.
“The event that the PM is hosting is only for the MPs of NDA partners. When Uddhavji is not an MP, where is the question of him being invited? This is not even a question worth asking,” a senior Sena leader told on condition of anonymity.
He said it is not as if leaders of other NDA constituents have been invited and Uddhav left out.
“It is not as if (Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal leader) Parkash Singh Badal has been invited and Uddhavji hasn’t. Since (Union Food Minister and Lok Janshakti Party leader) Ram Vilas Paswan is a Member of Parliament, he has been invited for the event. Even our MPs have been invited and they will attend the event,” he said.
He said Uddhav does not need a dinner invitation to meet Prime Minister Modi.
“If Uddhavji wants to meet PM Modi, he will directly go and meet him alone. Why should he need a dinner invite to meet him?” the Sena leader said.
Meanwhile, Athawale said Uddhav is “very keen” on his party forming a coalition government with BJP and that there is “no doubt now” about the alliance being revived.
Modi’s ambitious projects such as the Clean India campaign and the MP Model Village scheme will be taken up during the high tea for NDA MPs this evening with a view to seek their support and participation for its success.