In a damage control exercise, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Tuesday night spoke to Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray amid fissures in the saffron alliance over BJP's overtures to the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Modi phoned Uddhav and discussed the current situation, party sources said.
Shiv Sena is fuming after senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari met MNS President Raj Thackeray, Uddhav's arch rival in Maharashtra, reportedly to persuade the latter to help in avoiding a split in the saffron votes in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The hush hush meeting took place in a hotel in Mumbai last week.
Modi's phone call came after senior BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy met Uddhav in Mumbai on Tuesday. "Modi told Uddhav that the Shiv Sena is the oldest and trusted ally of the BJP," a senior Sena leader told PTI.
Modi sought to allay apprehension over the current development, the leader added.
Talking to reporters after meeting Uddhav at the latter's residence at suburban Bandra, Rudy said all was well with the Sena BJP alliance.
"The Shiv Sena has been our old ally. It has been an integral part of the national Democratic Alliance," Rudy said.
To a query on Uddhav's statement earlier in the day seeking to know who was the BJP's leader in Maharashtra, Rudy said "It is my belief that the state unit president (Devendra Fadnavis) is our leader here. There is nothing surprising or controversial in this."
Rudy also said Uddhav had a "satisfactory" telephonic talk with BJP President Rajnath Singh on the current situation.