In a big political development in Maharashtra on Tuesday, sources have told Republic TV that MNS chief Raj Thackeray met former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at an undisclosed location. As per sources, the meeting went on for at least an hour. This assumes significance in wake of reports that Raj Thackeray is likely to announce a major ideological shift on January 23, the birth anniversary of his uncle and Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray.
Since Uddhav Thackeray took oath as the CM of Maharashtra, the Sena is being perceived to have moved away from its Hindutva stance owing to the compulsions of its alliance with NCP and Congress. The ideological dilemma for the Sena has come to the fore on issues such as the Citizenship Amendment Act and Veer Savarkar. In the case of the former, the Sena MPs adopted a different position in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. On the other hand, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut defended Savarkar both on Twitter as well as in the Saamana newspaper. However, party supremo Uddhav Thackeray refused to comment on Rahul Gandhi’s remark that had sparked off the controversy in the first place.
In a party meeting held in Pune recently, the MNS supremo was very critical of Shiv Sena's distancing itself from Hindutva, according to sources. Meanwhile, the BJP too has repeatedly taken on the Sena for compromising with its ideology for the sake of power. In another development, BJP workers in Palghar put up a banner featuring Raj Thackeray, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Fadnavis in the run-up to the District Council election. Sources reveal that BJP MLA Ashish Shelar also met Raj Thackeray recently. Senior MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar confirmed that his party could potentially ally with the BJP to take on the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance.
In the recently concluded 2019 Maharashtra assembly elections, MNS could win only one seat. MNS’ Pramod Patil defeated the Shiv Sena candidate from the Kalyan Rural constituency. There is speculation that the party has discarded its current flag- which has three colours- saffron, green and blue. The new saffron flag with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s seal on it is expected to be unveiled very soon.