Mumbai, February 19: Sparking fresh speculation of a tie-up, the Mumbai Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Ashish Shelar called on Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray at the latter’s residence here on Monday morning. The duo was closeted for over an hour without aides, fuelling talks of a possible electoral pact with the ruling Mahayuti alliance of Shiv Sena-BJP-Nationalist Congress Party, though both sides have yet to comment officially on the meeting.

However, MNS Chief Spokesperson Sandeep Deshpande said that both Raj Thackeray and Ashish Shelar are good friends and they keep meeting regularly, “so nothing much should be read into it,” while not outrightly ruling out the possibility of any political linkup. Raj Thackeray on Mulund Video: ‘Kick Them’, Roars MNS President Thackeray, After Mumbai Gujarati Society Bars Maharashtrian Woman.

Political circles were rife with contentions that Shelar reportedly conveyed 'a message from the BJP high command' to the MNS chief, as the countdown to the Lok Sabha elections gets underway.

Though Raj Thackeray enjoys cordial relations with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde (whom he met last week to greet on his 60th birthday), Deputy CMs Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, he has so far remained a fence-sitter and kept all political cards close to the chest, specially the prospects of an election tie-up. MNS Chief Raj Thackeray Meets Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde, Discusses Issue of Marathi Signboards and Toll Collection (Watch Video).

Recently, senior MNS leaders like Bala Nandgaonkar had met Shinde, Fadnavis and other BJP bigwigs, but there were no concrete developments pertaining to the upcoming Lok Sabha, Assembly and civic elections in Maharashtra. However, Fadnavis kept up the suspense claiming that everything will be known at ‘the right time’ and hinted that anything could happen in the near future.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Feb 19, 2024 02:16 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website