For the first time since his father, Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, passed away last November, Sena president Uddhav Thackeray dropped hints of a rapprochement with his estranged cousin, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, commenting that he would welcome an alliance with the MNS.

In the second part of an interview in his party mouthpiece Saamana , Mr. Uddhav Thackeray said that the issue (of a possible reconciliation) would have to be thought out jointly by them.

“The question has to be asked when both of us are sitting face-to-face,” he said, adding: “One cannot clap with a single hand.”

The Sena president went so far as to say that “if anyone wholeheartedly wanted to join the Sena” then he would certainly welcome them, while commenting that the ruling Congress-NCP alliance directly benefited from the division of the Marathi vote caused by the Sena-MNS rift.

While this has sparked fresh speculation on a Sena-MNS merger, sceptical observers attribute his overtures to a sense of desperation felt in struggling to keep the Sena in one piece.

“We have to first analyse why we drifted away in the first place. If we are to reunite, then for what purpose and who is our main political opponent? How do we defeat our opponents and what direction should be taken for achieving this?” Mr. Uddhav Thackeray said.