Reacting to the meeting of former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari with MNS leader Raj Thackeray in Mumbai, the Shiv Sena on Tuesday said if a senior leader from BJP supports Mr. Raj Thackeray or Sharad Pawar, it can affect the alliance.
“It can affect the ‘Mahayuti’ (grand alliance) if a senior leader from BJP meets Raj Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar,” Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut told reporters.
The Sena leader also expressed confidence of his party firmly holding onto the Marathi electorate in Maharashtra.
“Marathi votes will remain with Shiv Sena only. Nobody can dare take it away from us,” he said.
“The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance will defeat Congress-NCP and would win as many as 40 seats out of the total 48 Lok Sabha in Maharashtra,” Mr. Raut claimed.
Mr. Gadkari, who is said to enjoy a good rapport with Mr. Raj Thackeray, had on Monday met the latter at a suburban five-star hotel, triggering speculation that the saffron party is trying to win over the MNS chief into NDA for upcoming elections even as he said there is no reason for Shiv Sena to be annoyed by his meeting with Mr. Raj Thackeray.
Mr. Gadkari had later told mediapersons that he “discussed with the MNS chief the ways to get rid of the Congress government”.
However, the Republican Party of India (Athawale) led by Ramdas Athawale, also an important constituent of the ‘Mahayuti’, said he would “welcome” Mr. Raj Thackeray into the NDA fold.