Rightwing Hindu leader Sambhaji Bhide visited 'Matoshree', the residence of Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray in suburban Bandra, on late Thursday evening, a Sena source said. However, Thackeray was not home and therefore Bhide, whose arrival was unexpected, could not meet him, said a close aide of the Sena chief. Bhide's surprise visit to Matoshree came amidst the ongoing stand-off between the Sena and BJP, the two saffron allies, over Chief Minister's post after the Maharashtra assembly polls.
Bhide, a former RSS activist who heads the Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan, is an accused in the January 1 Bhima-Koregaon violence case. One person had died during the clashes between members of the Dalit and Maratha communities around Bhima-Koregaon village in Pune district during the bicentenary event of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in which British forces comprising a large number of Dalit soldiers had defeated the Peshwas, who represented the Maratha empire.
Bhide was booked in the violence case along with another Hindutva leader Milind Ekbote. He was given a clean chit by the BJP-ruled government. However, unlike Ekbote he was never arrested in the case. His outfit enjoys sizable clout in Sangli, Satara, and Kolhapur districts of western Maharashtra.
In 2018, Bhide said that a number of couples were blessed with sons after eating mangoes from his orchard. "Mangoes are powerful and nutritious. Some women who ate mangoes of my garden have given birth to sons," Bhide said addressing a gathering in Nashik.
Shiv Sena had previously issued an ultimatum to BJP stating that party chief Amit Shah and CM Devendra Fadnavis should issue a written statement assuring that the CM post will be shared equally for 2.5 years each. Speaking to reporters outside Matoshree, Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik said that Uddhav Thackeray felt that the 50:50 formula promised by BJP prior to the polls, should be kept. Sena MLAs have demanded repeatedly for Aaditya Thackeray to be made the CM - putting up posters. But this has been refused by BJP.
(Inputs from PTI)