Fadnavis meets Raj Thackeray in Mumbai

Thu 25 Nov 2021, 13:19:02
Mumbai: Amid speculation about the changing political equations in the metropolis ahead of  the crucial  February 2022 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections, Maharashtra’s former chief minister and senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis met MNS chief Raj Thackeray at the latter’s new residence “Shiv Thirth” at Dadar in north-central Mumbai on Wednesday afternoon.

Fadnavis, who was accompanied by his banker-wife Amruta, spent nearly two hours at “Shiv Thirth” interacting with the MNS chief and his wife Sharmila over lunch.

As the speculation over the import of the luncheon meeting between Raj and senior BJP leader, MNS Spokesperson Sandeep Deshpande said that Thackerays had invited the Fadnavis couple to their new house for lunch. Notwithstanding the clarification issued by Deshpande, the speculation was rift that the BJP and MNS may try to forge an alliance for the crucial BMC polls scheduled to be held in February 2022.

For many years since they formed an alliance in the late eighties,  the Shiv Sena used to rule the BMC in alliance with the BJP. However, after the Shiv Sena broke its alliance with the BJP at the state and national levels and formed the government in alliance with the NCP and Congress in the state in the last week of November 2019, the saffron alliance broke at the BMC.  Currently, the Shiv Sena rules the BMC on its own.

It may be recalled that the BMC polls held in 2017 had thrown up a hung house. The Shiv Sena had emerged as the

single largest party with 84 seats in the 227-member BMC, followed by BJP- 82, Congress- 31, NCP- 9, MNS- 7 and others-- 14. 

During the first two and a half years in power, the Shiv Sena increased its strength to 94, by inducting among others seven corporators from the Raj Thackeray-led NCP.

However, after it aligned with the NCP and Congress in the state in November 2019, the ruling Shiv Sena has been enjoying the support of the two parties for the past two years

Given that all the three constituents of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) nurse the ambition of expanding their base in Mumbai, it is not clear as yet whether the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress will contest the 2022 BMC polls as an alliance.

Despite the fact that it had won as many as 92 seats in the 227-member civic body in the 2017 polls,  the BJP – which is the principal Opposition party in the state – will have a tough time in the 2022 BMC polls. No wonder, ahead of the 2022 civic polls, the BJP is cosying up to the MNS, which had won seven seats in the 2017 polls. 

BJP leaders Ashish Shelar and Prasad Lad had earlier met the MNS chief at the latter’s residence.

On his part, the MNS spokesperson reiterated that not much should be read into the MNS chief's meeting with Fadnavis. He said that every legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar had met Raj Thackeray at the latter's residence a few days back.  

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