Mumbai, Feb. 21: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray today shrugged off his estranged cousin’s refusal to join hands for the 2014 elections, saying “1 + 1” was “not 2 in politics”.
“Do I look disappointed?” Uddhav told a television channel while responding to questions for the first time since Raj Thackeray bluntly rejected his offer to include the MNS in a grand Sena-BJP-RPI alliance to pre-empt a division of Marathi votes in the parliamentary elections next year.
“Ramdas (Athawale of the RPI) has come with us. 1 + 1 is not 2 in politics. We made an attempt (to come together). I have continued my work, and let’s see what happens ahead.”
What Uddhav possibly meant was just tying up with Raj might not translate into an improved performance on the ground.
Uddhav’s offer had come in a serialised interview published in party mouthpiece Saamna. He said he was open to an alliance with Raj if his cousin, who broke away from the Sena to form the MNS, also took a step forward.
Raj rejected the offer on February 12. At a rally while touring the state, he indicated he would seek a mandate on his own strength.
Uddhav said his personal relations with his cousin had improved since Raj had rushed to visit him during his angioplasties last year and joined him at Bal Thackeray’s bedside before the Sena patriarch passed away in November.
“It is true that he came during that time but after that (there was no positive response). I will say that you should ask this question (about an alliance) to both of us together,” Uddhav said.
Asked if the Congress-NCP would benefit again if the Sena-MNS did not ally, he said: “It is not necessary. There are states where a single-party government has been elected which is against Congress and without any alliance. It can happen (in Maharashtra too).”
Asked if Sushma Swaraj was still the Sena’s choice for Prime Minister vis-ŕ-vis Narendra Modi, Uddhav said: “The NDA allies should sit together and decide a candidate before the polls. When Sushma Swaraj came home, Balasaheb had blessed her and told her to contest for PM. That time there were no names in the running, including Modi’s. Modi was preparing for the Gujarat elections. So, there is no change in our stand. I feel there should be a strategy for winning, and then a consensus should emerge around one name.”
Asked if there was pressure from cadres to reinvent the Sena in the post-Bal Thackeray era, he said: “Every party has its identity… I don’t think there is any need for change.”