The Shiv Sena on Friday announced that it would field 32 candidates for the Lok Sabha elections outside Maharashtra — 20 in Uttar Pradesh, six in Bihar, and three each in Delhi and Kerala.

The decision is said to have been triggered by senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari recently meeting Raj Thackeray, leader of the Sena’s bitter rival, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said: “We want to expand our base outside Maharashtra. Our alliance with BJP is only in Maharashtra and not outside.”

Earlier in the day, Mr. Raut reportedly told a news agency that the Sena would field candidates in Varanasi and Lucknow also, where the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi and party president Rajnath Singh are contesting. But later he backtracked saying the party asked U.P. Sena chief Uday Shankar Pandey to withdraw the names for these two seats.

Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray tweeted: “Contrary to media twisted quotes, obviously Shiv Sena isn’t putting up candidates against Our PM candidate. Those who even believe such funny rumours, well, I feel sorry for them. Therefore, obviously not contesting in Varanasi and Lucknow.”