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Storm in Shiv Sena over MNS support to BJP

By The Assam Tribune

Mumbai, March 11 (IANS): A veritable storm has erupted in the Shiv Sena two days after its bete-noire, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), decided to support the BJP in the State without joining the NDA or the saffron Grand Alliance.

Amidst a public clamour from Shiv Sainiks to break the nearly 25-year-old alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), senior BJP leaders rushed to meet and mollify Uddhav Thackeray here today.

For starters, State BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis called on Thackeray and assured him that the existing five-party saffron Grand Alliance would be intact in the State.

He told media-persons that unnecessary attempts were on to create "misunderstandings" between the BJP and the Shiv Sena.

Later on Tuesday evening, BJP general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra Rajiv Pratap Rudy is expected to call on Thackeray at the latter's Matoshri Bandra residence.

BJP sources said that senior party leaders, including Rajnath Singh and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi spoke to Thackeray Tuesday and attempted to reassure him on its alliance with Shiv Sena.

The developments came in the wake of a meeting of the party's top leadership and Lok Sabha candidates summoned by Thackeray Tuesday to discuss its future strategy in the wake of the changing political scenario.

The Shiv Sena has toughened its stance vis-a-vis the BJP after its senior leader Nitin Gadkari openly wooed MNS chief Raj Thackeray and sought his support for the BJP and Modi, and not to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Raj Thackeray played his cards carefully by declaring support to Modi and putting up Lok Sabha candidates opposite only Shiv Sena nominees - except in Pune.

The MNS candidates include Bala Nandgaonkar (Mumbai South), Bollywood actor-director Mahesh Manjrekar (Mumbai North-West), Rajiv Patil (Kalyan), Ashok Khandebard (Shirur), Pradeep Pawar (Nashik) and Deepak Paygude (Pune) - the last from where the BJP candidate is contesting.

While the Shiv Sena maintained a cryptic silence, an embarrassed BJP, welcomed MNS support to Modi, but urged Raj Thackeray to extend support to all the Grand Alliance and National Democratic Alliance candidates.

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