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Gadkari meets Raj

POLL PITCH

Mumbai, March. 3: Hours after the Mumbai unit of the BJP denied a “secret” meeting between Nitin Gadkari and Raj Thackeray on Monday, the BJP leader admitted having met the MNS chief with an appeal not to contest the Lok Sabha polls to ensure that the anti-Congress vote remains “undivided”, reports our special correspondent.

Following reports that the two had met at a hotel, speculation was rife that the BJP was trying to bring the MNS into the five-party alliance in Maharashtra.

However, Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar denied that any such meeting took place.

In the evening, Gadkari told a news channel that he had indeed met Raj, a close friend, over lunch. “It is important that the anti-Congress vote remains on one side.... I told the same thing to Raj,” Gadkari said.

Asked if his attempts would not upset Raj’s cousin and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, Gadkari said: “There is no reason for him to be upset. If Raj supports my point of view, it will only be in the interest of the Sena-BJP alliance.”

The state BJP chief and Gadkari confidant, Devendra Fadnavis, went to meet Uddhav later at his residence.

After the MNS chief spurned an offer from Uddhav to join the alliance last year, the Sena boss had made it clear to the BJP that Raj’s entry into the combine would be strictly with his consent.

BJP list

Bangalore (PTI): The BJP’s first list of candidates for the Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka will be announced on March 8, the state unit’s chief said here on Monday. Prahalad Joshi said the candidates for all the 28 seats in the state had been finalised.

The party has found a solution to the confusion over the claim on the Bangalore North seat, he added. Former chief minister Sadananda Gowda and former deputy chief minister R. Ashok have both been eyeing the seat.

AP civic polls

Hyderabad (PTI): Municipal elections will be held in Andhra Pradesh on March 30, and could be a test of the public mood ahead of the Lok Sabha and the Assembly polls. Andhra election commissioner P. Ramakant Reddy has announced the programme for elections to 10 municipal corporations and 146 municipalities in the state. Elections to the Hyderabad municipal corporation will be held later.