‘No rift’ in Sena-BJP ties, Amit Shah to meet Uddhav

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On his maiden visit to Mumbai on Thursday, the Bharatiya Jananta Party (BJP) national president Amit Shah sought to diffuse tension between the BJP and ally Shiv Sena by accepting Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s invitation to pay a visit to latter’s residence.

Setting aside speculation of rift in the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, Shah will meet Sena president Uddhav Thackeray at his residence in Mumbai on Thursday night.

“Uddhav had invited Shah at his residence ‘Matoshree’,” leader of Opposition in Maharashtra legislative council Vinod Tawde, told reporters.

“The invitation has been accepted by Shah and he will pay a courtesy visit to Thackeray at 9.30pm,” he said.

There has been speculation about the Sena-BJP relations in view of Shah’s visit to Mumbai, he said.

“But we were in constant coordination with Sena leaders on this matter,” Tawde said.

Over past few weeks, there has been tension between Sena and BJP over seat-sharing with the latter demanding half of the 288 assembly seats for the coming elections.

In 2009, the Sena had contested 169 while BJP 119 but Sena is now unwilling to concede more seats. The bitterness between the allies increased ahead of Shah’s first visit to Mumbai after his selection of BJP national president.

Although his itinerary did not have any mention of his meeting with Thackeray – his predecessors always made it a point to pay a customary visit to Matoshree, Thackeray family’s residence in Bandra.

Shah will also pay homage to Sena founder, the late Bal Thackeray, at his ‘samadhi’ in Shivaji Park after the BJP meeting at Shanmukhanand hall later in the evening, he added.

Shah appealed to the party workers to begin their campaign to free the states from Congress rule with Maharashtra where assembly elections are due next month.

Earlier in the morning, the BJP chief was given a grand welcome by hundreds of BJP workers at the airport. Addressing them, Shah asked them to get ready to defeat Congress in Maharashtra. “People have made up their mind to defeat the corrupt government here. You should begin the campaign to drive Congress out of states with Maharashtra,”he said.

Shah is currently closeted in a meeting with BJP’s core committee in state at the residence of party leader Vinod Tawde. He will address partyworkers at a meeting at Shanmukhanand Hall in the evening.

Meanwhile, several Congress and NCP leaders including former Maharashtra minister Babanrao Pachpute and former union minister Suryakanta Patil are expected to join BJP on Thursday in Shah’s presence.

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