Election strategist and JDU leader Prashant Kishor meeting Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aaditya has led to optimism among BJP leaders of an alliance with the Sena for the Lok Sabha elections.
In October 2017, the BJP's cantankerous ally in Maharashtra had announced that it would fight all future elections alone.
Although Shiv Sena parliamentarian Sanjay Raut described Mr Kishor's meeting with the Thackerays as "a courtesy visit", he did indicate that "things will be clear very soon", according to news agency IANS.
Mr Kishor's JDU, led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, is an ally of the NDA government.
"Today, we had a special visitor over lunch. Some great talks," Aaditya Thackeray tweeted omn Tuesday, to which Mr Kishor replied, "As part of NDA, we look forward to joining forces with you in Maharashtra to help secure victory in upcoming Lok Sabha elections and beyond."
Sena leaders have taken that as a hint of a possible alliance for both Lok Sabha and assembly elections in Maharashtra this year.
However, the Sena has not given any indication so far of joining hands with the BJP for the general elections, and continues to criticise Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government over a range of issues, including distress in the farm sector and the Ram temple case.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP-Sena alliance won 41 out of 48 seats, but split barely six months later and contested the assembly elections separately.
The Sena managed to scrape through and later joined the BJP-led state government.
With inputs from IANS
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