Mumbai: Speculations around a possible alliance between the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the National Congress Party (NCP) in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls are ripe once again and sending the rumour mill into overdrive was Raj Thackeray’s decision to invite Rahul Gandhi, president of NCP’s senior partner Congress, for his son’s wedding.
Two of Thackeray’s emissaries travelled to Delhi this week to invite Gandhi for the wedding later this month. Sources told News18 that Thackeray was supposed to hold a meeting with Gandhi, but cancelled his visit and instead sent two secretaries - Harshal Deshpande and Manoj Hate.
However, a senior Congress leader quashed all speculations and said there were no political connotations attached to the visit. “There is nothing political about it, Thackrery’s secretaries visited with a wedding invitation,” said the leader on condition of anonymity.
Raj Thackeray’s son Amit Thackeray is set to tie the knot with Mitali Borude on January 27 in Mumbai. Thackeray had announced that the wedding will be a “small affair”, with very few guests on the invite list, but several prominent business leaders, politicians, top cops and bureaucrats are expected to attend.
Sources told News18 that apart from Rahul Gandhi, important Congress leaders like Sushilkumar Shinde, Prithviraj Chavan, Milind Deora, have been invited. Also on the list are NCP leaders like Ajit Pawar, Sunil Tatkare, Jayant Patil, OBC strongman Chhagan Bhujbal, NCP’s young and popular face in Marathwada Dhananjay Munde. Raj may not invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Thackeray recently also visited his estranged brother Uddhav Thackeray to invite him and his family. Apart from this, a personal invitation will reportedly be also sent to Sharad Pawar, with whom he has been seen to get close in the last few months. He will also extend a personal invite to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari.
The MNS, after playing kingmaker in the 2009 elections, faced a humiliating defeat in the 2014 polls. But Raj Thackeray has been trying to revive his political fortunes for the coming 2019 polls.
Senior political sources told News18 that while MNS may not fight the elections on its own, it may try to seek seats from NCP for Vidhan Sabha elections. However, the grand-old party has categorically denied any possibility of an alliance with MNS, as it could turn out to be problematic owing to Thackeray’s strong anti-north Indian image.