BJP chief Amit Shah to meet estranged ally Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray

New Delhi: BJP President Amit Shah is set to meet Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai on Wednesday. This move is being seen as BJP’s effort to make amends with it oldest but most critical alliance partner.

The meeting between the two leaders is significant as it comes in after the two bickering allies contested the recently concluded Palghar bypolls separately. Defeated by BJP in the Palghar parliamentary seat, the Sena called BJP as its “biggest political enemy”

Despite the defeat in Palghar, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut told the media, “We showed that we can fight alone when we contested the Palghar bypoll. We may have lost, however, the message has been sent across. We received lakhs of votes (in Palghar) where we had never contested an election.”

“Amit Shah sought time to meet Uddhavji. Accordingly, an appointment of tomorrow evening has been given to him,” Sena MP Sanjay Raut was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

As per reports, Amit Shah will meet Uddhav Thackeray around 6 pm at the latter’s residence ‘Matoshree’.

The two leaders are, however, meeting after one year. Amit Shah had visited Mr Thackeray in June last year to seek support for the BJP’s presidential pick Ram Nath Kovind.

The BJP chief is in Mumbai for a “Sampark for Samarthan” or contact for support, one of his outreach efforts ahead of the 2019 national election.

The BJP and Shiv Sena who have been, co-governing Maharashtra since 2014, have witnessed a new low over the past few years. In addition to daily attacks on BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Sena has stressed on the point that it is not collaborating with BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The country is in a state of mind that “can accept the Congress or (Janata Dal Secular’s HD) Deve Gowda but not PM Modi and Amit Shah,” said Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut in a trenchant editorial.

“The Shiv Sena is the biggest political enemy of the BJP. The Sena’s radical Hinduism would prove problematic for the BJP,” he wrote in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’.

Raut also accused the BJP of using its resources to defeat the Sena in Palghar while “staying in power with the Sena’s help”.

Referring to the BJP’s setbacks in bypolls in other states – mainly Uttar Pradesh where it lost its third parliamentary seat, Kairana, this year – Raut wrote that “the bypoll results indicate the beginning of the BJP’s downfall.”

After the bypoll defeat, the BJP is believed to be keen on bridging the gap with allies who are becoming restless and more vocal.