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Thaw in BJP-Shiv Sena ties as Uddhav Thackeray meets Amit Shah, calls Modi elder brother

LiveMint logoLiveMint 11-04-2017 PTI

New Delhi: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi an “elder brother”, signalling a thaw in the frosty ties between the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Thackeray not only attended a meeting of NDA partners on Monday night, but also had separate talks with BJP president Amit Shah. The leaders discussed a host of issues, and agreed to meet more often for better coordination, said a senior BJP leader, who was present at the meeting.

“Thackeray appreciated both Modi and NDA government at the centre for its development agenda and said Prime Minister is like our elder brother,” the BJP leader said quoting the Shiv Sena boss.

Recalling the long association between the two parties, Thackeray told Shah that as a senior partner, it had greater responsibility towards ensuring improved coordination between them.

Uddhav also cracked a joke during his address to the NDA conclave, drawing a hearty laugh from Modi, people in the BJP said, underlining the importance of symbolism of body language during such gatherings.

With presidential election round the corner, the BJP is hopeful of securing the support of the Shiv Sena’s contingent of 18 MPs and 63 MLAs after the Shah-Thackeray meeting. The BJP’s oldest pro-Hindutva ally was seen playing the hard ball over the issue so far.

Shiv Sena had embarassed the BJP in the 2012 presidential poll by backing the UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee, while the saffron party supported P.A. Sangma for the post.

Thackeray also praised the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh for farm loan waiver but insisted that the BJP dispensation in Maharashtra follow suit given the agrarian tragedy and hardship in the state.

Shiv Sena has criticised the BJP and Modi on a host of issues, including inflation, demonetisation and cross-border terrorism. The party’s mouthpiece Saamana routinely publishes editorials against the saffron ally. Its leaders had even joined a TMC-led march to Rashtrapati Bhavan against demonetisation.

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