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Uddhav hints at truce with Raj

Mumbai, Jan. 30: Uddhav Thackeray today said “one cannot clap with a single hand” but would “welcome” any alliance move from Raj, signalling a possible rapprochement with his cousin two months after Bal Thackeray’s demise.

“One cannot clap with one handů. Does it happen? You tell me,” the Shiv Sena president said in response to a question during an interview with Dopahar Ka Saamna, the Hindi edition of party mouthpiece Saamna, on whether the cousins would come together. Uddhav was speaking to Sanjay Raut, Sena Rajya Sabha MP and executive editor of the paper.

Prodded further, Uddhav said: “If someone is going to come wholeheartedly with the Sena, I will welcome them.”

But Uddhav cautioned that several factors would have to be considered. “More important than coming together, we have to first analyse why we drifted away in the first place. If we reunite, then for what purpose? Who is your main political opponent? Who do you want to destroy politically? And what direction should be taken for achieving this?”

The interview drew mixed reactions. BJP leader Gopinath Munde welcomed the idea of including Raj’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in the larger Sena-BJP-RPI alliance to prevent a division of Marathi votes. The ruling Congress and the NCP said the idea posed no threat.

Sena chief Bal Thackeray, who passed away in November, had hoped for a rapprochement between the cousins but failed to initiate such a truce despite having Raj and Uddhav by his bedside in his last days. They were last seen together at Thackeray’s funeral, but the MNS had later opposed the Sena’s demand for a memorial to Thackeray at Shivaji Park.

But Uddhav appeared to hint at some limitations when asked if the Sena-BJP alliance should include the MNS.

“He (Raj) recently criticised Sushma Swaraj and others (after the Nitin Gadkari resignation drama). Besides, the BJP should see if the MNS’s stance (on north Indian migrants) would be convenient to them outside Maharashtra. Why should I resolve their tangles now? If there is an alliance in the truest sense, I am one for it.”

The allusion was to objections from Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and his Janata Dal (United) to Raj’s utterances against migrants from the state.

The Dal (U), like the Sena, is part of the BJP-led NDA.