A meeting of NDA's top leaders, including Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, will take place on Monday evening, as the ruling alliance puts up a show of strength ahead of elections to the post of President and Vice-President of India. The meeting will be presided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This is only the second meeting of top NDA leaders since the alliance stormed to power in 2014 and could result in smoothing over any differences between the BJP and many of its small allies, some of whom have often complained about the lack of communication.
Leaders of 31 NDA allies, including the new friends the saffron party won over in Goa and northeastern states, will attend the meeting after BJP president Amit Shah reached out to them. Sources said Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, and his Jammu and Kashmir counterpart Mehbooba Mufti will attend the meeting, as will other prominent party leaders.
A senior Shiv Sena functionary confirmed that Uddhav and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray were also going for the meeting. “Uddhavji will leave for Delhi around 1 pm. He will be accompanied by Aaditya,” he told Hindustan Times.
The report mentioned that with Sena being an NDA partner, Thackeray was invited for the meet to be chaired by the prime minister at Pravasi Bharatiya Bhavan in Delhi on Monday.
This will be the first time Uddhav will meet Modi and Shah in Delhi after attending the Union Cabinet's swearing-in ceremony in May 2014, sources in the Sena told The Indian Express. The report also mentioned that Modi is expected to seek the allies' views on the presidential election, to take place in July. BJP needs Sena's support to gets its candidate into Rashtrapati Bhavan, a Sena leader was quoted as saying.
A separate meeting between Modi and Thackeray is also likely to take place, according to Hindustan Times. This will be significant for both BJP and Shiv Sena, as the parties currently share a strained relationship in Maharashtra. BJP leaders are now hoping that the Modi-Uddhav meet will improve relations.
Shiv Sena had earlier announced that it would boycott the NDA meeting if the flying ban imposed by national carrier Air India on its party MP Ravindra Gaikwad was not lifted by 10 April. The ban was revoked on Friday after Gaikwad tendered a letter expressing regret over the incident to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju.
But relations between the two parties had begun to sour even earlier, brought upon by the strain of the municipal elections in February. Mumbai Mirror reported that Thackeray leveled several charges against Narendra Modi and his government during several public addresses during poll campaigns. Even in the Assembly recently, Sena sided with opposition parties over the issue of farm loan waivers.
BJP sources said the meeting will be a show of strength by the ruling alliance as well as an exercise in taking stock of the national political scene. Besides, considering the upcoming presidential election, names of the most aspirants candidates for the post of president and vice president will also be discussed in the conference. PTI reported that representatives of all NDA allies across the country will participate in the meeting during the evening, which will be followed by dinner.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Apr 10, 2017 15:25:19 IST