Mumbai: Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray will attend the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister for a second consecutive time, accompanied by his wife Rashmi and son Aditya, party sources indicated here on Wedneday.
The Shiv Sena is now the second largest constituent of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), having a total of 18 MPs in the Lok Sabha and another three in Rajya Sabha.
Besides, in Maharashtra, they have been allies uninterrupted – barring a brief parting in 2014 – for nearly 30 years, and is ruling the state for the second time. Before the the current government, the earlier tenure was from 1995-1999.
Despite sharp bickering for over four years, the two parties sewed up a formidable alliance last February for the May 2019 Lok Sabha polls which has paid off handsomely for a total of 41 seats.
Of the total 48 Lok Sabha seats – the second largest in the country after Uttar Pradesh – four went to the opposition Nationalist Congress Party, and one each to the Congress, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and the opposition-supported Yuva Swabhiman Party.
Since the renewal of bonds, Thackeray has been in a cosy relationship with BJP President Amit Shah and Modi, besides enjoying an excellent personal rapport with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Soon after the results were announced on May 23, Fadnavis made it a point to visit Thackeray at his ‘Matoshri’ residence in Bandra carrying sweets.
On May 21, Thackeray attended a pre-results meeting of the NDA in New Delhi.
Later, on May 25, he was given a position on the dais in Parliament Hall when Modi was elected leader of the BJP-NDA parliamentary party.
In April, Thackeray was present in Varanasi along with other NDA leaders, when Modi filed his nomination papers for the seat.
Given the sheer warmth of their relationship, there is speculation the BJP may give up two, or possibly three, ministerial berths to the Shiv Sena, compared to only one in the previous NDA regime.
This would pay rich dividends for both partners in the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly elections due in October, when Thackeray junior is also expected to test the electoral waters.