Gadkari, who enjoys a good rapport with Raj Thackeray, had met him at a suburban five-star hotel two days back, triggering speculation that the BJP is trying to win over the MNS chief into NDA for upcoming elections even as he said there was no reason for Shiv Sena to be annoyed by his meeting with Raj. (Agencies)
"There is no doubt in the mind of the people of Maharashtra that BJP leader Nitin Gadkari is a thorough businessman. In the field of politics also he has developed a skill to get whatever he wants without investing any capital," Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said in the editorial of his party mouthpiece.
"Gadkari is so skilled that without offering any 'dakshina' (money given for one's services) to the MNS chief, he has sought his support.
"And there are reports that without paying or accepting any toll, the MNS chief has agreed to accept Gadkari's plea," the Sena chief said taking a dig at Raj over his recent agitation against toll plazas.
"Gadkari asked the MNS chief not to field MNS nominees to avoid division in vote against Congress, which may harm Narendra Modi's chances of becoming the Prime Minister," he said.
“If Gadkari has such reservations, then it may also arise questions in the mind of common people whether the Modi wave is really strong enough,” Thackeray said.
"Modi is a strong leader and he has created a storm. There is a strong wave in favour of Modi not only there in Maharashtra, but in the entire country and Shiv Sena is strongly behind him. The Mahayuti (the five-party opposition alliance including Sena, BJP) has entered into the fray to win as many seats to support Modi become the Prime Minister," he said.
"If Modi is great, the people of Maharashtra will wholeheartedly vote for him. Therefore, nobody should be concerned about the division of votes," Thackeray added.
Maharashtra BJP backs Gadkari over meeting with Raj Thackeray
Earlier, Maharashtra BJP had strongly backed Nitin Gadkari, who had met Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray on Monday, to request him not to contest Lok Sabha polls, to ensure that votes do not get fragmented.
"Gadkari has clarified the motive behind meeting Raj Thackeray, since he said that if MNS contests Lok Sabha polls, it will lead to division of votes (between the BJP-Sena-RPI alliance and the MNS)," Maharashtra BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis told reporters in Mumbai.
"Gadkari is our national leader. He can meet anybody he wants. It does not need my endorsement," he said.
However, he said that his party is still unaware about MNS president Raj Thackeray's stand on the issue.
Fadnavis also clarified that he was not summoned by Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray who is said to be unhappy about Gadkari's overtures towards the MNS.
"I was not summoned by Uddhav Thackeray last night. A meeting with him was already scheduled. No explanation was sought from me by the Sena chief," he said.
Another BJP leader Vinod Tawde said that if the MNS does not contest Lok Sabha polls, then it would not only benefit the BJP, but also the Shiv Sena.
"We do not know why there was any need to react sharply. Gadkari only asked him (Raj Thackeray) not to contest the Lok Sabha polls. He did not do any deal with Raj," the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council said.
"There is no need for Sena leaders to be upset," he said, adding that, "We did not ask the MNS to join in the BJP-Sena-RPI alliance or the NDA. Gadkari did not propose any such thing," Tawde said.
Both Shiv Sena and BJP had lost their five respective seats due to the MNS factor during the 2009 general elections.
Gadkari, who enjoys a good rapport with Raj Thackeray, had met him at a suburban five-star hotel two days back, triggering speculation that the BJP is trying to win over the MNS chief into NDA for upcoming elections even as he said there was no reason for Shiv Sena to be annoyed by his meeting with Raj.