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BJP Reaches Out to Sulking Allies, Amit Shah to Meet Uddhav Thackeray Tomorrow

The BJP won the contest against a divided opposition in Palghar, but the elections clearly sent a warning signal to the party iwith the victory margin and vote share of the BJP coming down drastically from the 2014 figures.

Marya Shakil | CNN-News18maryashakil

Updated:June 5, 2018, 2:58 PM IST

New Delhi: A week after the bypoll debacle, the BJP has initiated moves to reach out to its sulking allies. BJP president Amit Shah will be travelling to Mumbai to meet Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray after the two allies fought a bitter electoral battle in Palghar Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra.

Shiv Sena sources said Shah and Thackeray will meet at 6pm on Thursday at Matoshree, the Sena chief’s residence.

"We have no agenda for the Amit Shah meeting tomorrow. He sought an appointment. It is the culture of shiv Sena to welcome guests at Matoshree. So an appointment was granted," said senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut.

Sources in the BJP said Shah will also meet Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patriarch Parkash Singh Badal in Punjab this week. SAD leader Sukhbir Badal had called on the BJP chief on Saturday.

The BJP won the contest against a divided opposition in Palghar, but the elections clearly sent a warning signal to the party in power in the state and the Centre with the victory margin and vote share of the BJP coming down drastically from the 2014 figures.

The BJP also lost the Bhandhara-Gondia seat to NCP-Congress combine as the non-BJP parties gathered momentum to forge a larger front both in the state and at the national level.

The Sena attacked the Election Commission and its ally over complaints of malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPAT machines in bypolls. Sena alleged that the ruling party, which, it said, has an "autocratic mindset", has corrupted the EVMs to serve its own purpose.

A miffed Shiv Sena has repeatedly hit out at the BJP for what it calls a high-handed attitude of the NDA leader towards its smaller allies.

On Sunday, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut described BJP as its biggest "political enemy". The country "does not" want the duo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, but could "accept" the Congress or JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda, he said.

"The Shiv Sena is the biggest political enemy (rajkiya shatroo) of the BJP. The Sena's radical Hinduism would prove problematic for the BJP," he said in an opinion piece written under his ‘rokh-thokh' (straight forward) column published in party mouthpiece 'Saamana'.

Shah's outreach to Uddhav Thackeray comes in the midst of BJP allies opening up another front in Bihar seeking larger say in seat distribution.

The JD(U) and the BJP have already started pitching for more than 40 seats in the seat-sharing formula in Bihar. The development follows the embarrassing loss for the ruling alliance in Jokihat by-elections where it lost to Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD.

The ruling JD(U) insists that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is the leader of the JD(U)-BJP alliance and it has been the "senior partner" in the state thus indicating that it should get a major share of the seats.

The BJP was quick to react, who said that while it agrees that Kumar is the face of NDA in Bihar, the Lok Sabha elections will be fought under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, thus staking similar claims to the seats.

The question at the core of the debate is whether the poor showing of JD(U) in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections — when it was out of NDA — or whether it’s much-improved showing in the 2015 assembly elections would be a yardstick to decide the number of seats to be given to the JD(U) in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The NDA in Bihar is scheduled to hold a meeting, the first since Nitish Kumar rejoined the coalition, on Thursday.

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| Edited by: Puja Menon
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