As his one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi drew intense interest in political circles, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday said there was nothing wrong in having such interaction, adding snarkily that he had not gone to meet Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif.
The Maharashtra chief minister said although his party and the BJP may have parted ways, “the relationship has not ended”.
Thackeray led a delegation of his cabinet colleagues comprising his deputy Ajit Pawar, a senior NCP leader, and Congress’ Ashok Chavan to meet Modi and discuss issues pertaining to the state.
During the 90-minute interaction, Thackeray also had a one-on-one meeting with the prime minister.
Responding to a question on his meeting with Modi, Thackeray said, “Today, politically we are not with them but that does not mean our relationship has ended.
“There is nothing wrong to meet (Modi) one-on-one. I had not gone to meet (former Pakistan Prime minister) Nawaz Sharif. What is wrong if I have to meet him personally (one on one)? What is wrong in it?”
He said during the last one year, there have been instances when he had such conversation with Modi.
The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance crumbled in 2019 over the issue of chief ministership. Sena, which was one of the oldest allies of the BJP, later formed an unlikely alliance with the NCP and Congress to form the Mahavikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra.
Since then the two parties have had a strained relationship, with both leaving no opportunity to viciously attack each other.
“When there was Cyclone Tauktae…..then he (PM Modi) called and said your government is doing a good job in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. That was a one-on-one talk. So even today we had one on one talk. I told him I have come here with my colleagues and the problems faced by the state,” Thackeray said.
In Mumbai, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut and Maharashtra NCP president and Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil, when asked about the meeting, asserted that their Mahavikas Aghadi government will complete its full term of five years.
“Our commitment is to serve for five years and we will complete that tenure. There is nothing to be afraid of about a separate meeting that took place between chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. There is no threat to the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra,” Patil said.
He said a cordial relationship between the chief minister and the prime minister is good for Maharashtra.
“Though our political stands are different, we maintain a cordial relationship with leaders of other political parties. NCP chief Sharad Pawar maintains such relations. Sometimes controversies happen. There is nothing new about it,” he said.
After Thackeray took oath as the chief minister in 2019, he had referred to Modi as his elder brother.
“Thank you Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi ji for your kind wishes. With you as my elder brother in the Centre & with a strong cabinet in the state, I am looking forward to working persistently to build a New Maharashtra,” Thackeray had tweeted.
Uddhav Thackeray’s father and Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray had shared a good equation with Modi.