Nagpur: Nitin Gadkari today told NDTV that he has no regrets about his recent meeting with Raj Thackeray which created a major stress-test for his party, the BJP, and its oldest ally, the Shiv Sena. “It was for the benefit of the party,” Mr Gadkari said in an exclusive interview to NDTV. “I don’t need to take the permission of the party to meet with other leaders to help the BJP.”
Raj Thackeray’s estranged cousin, Uddhav Thackeray, who heads the Shiv Sena, has not withheld his extreme displeasure with the conferral organized in Mumbai at a five-star hotel by Mr Gadkari in the first week of March.
Mr Gadkari has said that he asked Raj Thackeray, who founded the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in 2006, to sit out the national election so that he would not split the right-wing vote in Maharashtra. Raj had almost agreed but the Shiv Sena reaction stopped it,” said Mr Gadkari today. “Raj told me, ‘if your allies don’t want my votes why should I help?'” Mr Gadkari charged today.
Raj Thackeray has met the BJP half-way on its request for a political rideshare. He has said his party will put up seven candidates for the Lok Sabha, but only one will take on the BJP; the others will run against the Shiv Sena.
Maharashtra has been governed by a coalition between the Congress and Sharad Pawar’s NCP since 1999. After Raj Thackeray’s party was formed in 2006, it has been biting into the vote of the Sena in local and state elections.
Mr Gadkari today made it clear that it’s not just Uddhav Thackeray who has complaints about their partnership. He said the Sena’s magazine, Saamna, must not be used as a platform for attacks on him and the BJP. Recent Saamna editorials have outed the party’s anger with the Raj Tackeray encounter.