Mumbai: Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, whose 25-year alliance with the BJP has just come unhinged, taunted his former partner today about the election rallies it has planned in Maharashtra for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"The BJP says there is a 'Modi wave' in the state. If that's the case, why has it planned so many rallies for him?" Mr Thackeray, 54, asked today. However, he said he plans to talk to the PM as soon as he returns from the US about "what went wrong with the alliance and why it snapped."
That posit has fostered the impression that the collapse of the alliance may itself be collapsible. Adding weight to that theory, Anant Geete, the Sena's sole union minister, said today that he's not going anywhere. "I have spoken to Uddhav Thackeray. There's no question of resigning," he told reporters in Delhi.
After initially announcing that Mr Geete would quit the union government, Mr Thackeray said yesterday that he has not decided if the Sena will exit the national coalition pivoted by the BJP. The revisions seem to suggest an interest in working at the relationship. (An Exit from NDA? Not Before Talking to PM, Says Uddhav Thackeray)
The BJP has announced that its campaign for the Maharashtra election will begin on Saturday with public meetings by the PM in Kolhapur and Mumbai. Party leaders indicate that Mr Modi will address supporters in Mumbai at the same venue where the Shiv Sena launched its poll campaign last week. Party leaders also say that he will address 27 rallies across the state before voting is held on October 15; results will be declared four days later.
Mr Thackeray's Shiv Sena is the oldest ally of the Prime Minister's BJP, but last week, their collaboration slumped over after differences over how many seats the two sides should contest.
"I still have a lot of respect for Mr Modi," Mr Thackeray said in an interview to NDTV, stressing that "till the end, I tried to prevent the alliance from ending." (Watch: Amar Prem with BJP turned into Kati Patang, Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray tells NDTV)