'Modiji's Era...': MLA Predicts Uddhav Thackeray's BJP U-Turn After Polls

New Delhi:

Maharashtra MLA Ravi Rana – an independent lawmaker whose wife, Navneet Rana, is the outgoing Amravati MP and among the BJP’s newest recruits, began his week with quite the prediction.

Mr Rana’s claim – ex-Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, a staunch BJP ally till post-2019 power-sharing squabbles drove a wedge between his Shiv Sena (then undivided) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s party – will return to the fold by June 20.

“I can confidently say… 15 days after Modiji becomes Prime Minister again, Uddhav Thackeray will be seen in the Modi government and with Modiji. The coming era is of Modiji and Uddhav Thackeray knows this. It is Narendra Modiji who is taking the ideas of Balasaheb Thackeray forward.”

“Leaders of the opposition MVA (the Maha Vikas Aghadi formed by Mr Thackeray’s Sena, Sharad Pawar’s NCP, and the Congress) should keep blood pressure medicines and doctors with them… as many of them will fall sick on June 4,” the MLA from Badnera in Ms Rana’s constituency, crowed.

The MVA was formed after the BJP-Sena split of 2019; it kept the saffron party from power and ruled the state till a rebel Sena unit, led by Eknath Shinde, now the Chief Minister, brought the house down.

NDTV Archives | Uddhav Thackeray Resigns Before Floor Test: 10 Points

The claim has been laughed off by Sanjay Raut, Mr Thackeray’s right-hand man. “Uddhav Thackeray has been leading the Shiv Sena for 25 years. (After the election) Uddhav Thackeray will decide.”

“A person like Ravi Rana has no right to speak on Uddhav Thackeray.”

Uddhav Thackeray vs PM Modi

The relationship between Mr Thackeray and Mr Modi – whose parties were once fast allies – has deteriorated sharply since the 2019 election fallout, with the Maharashtra leader this month even ‘apologising’ to voters for supporting and seeking votes for the Prime Minister in the past.

READ | Uddhav Thackeray “Apologises” To Voters For Backing PM Modi

“I apologise for seeking votes for Narendra Modi (in the past) because his government has betrayed Maharashtra…” he told reporters when asked about the events of 2022, when factions of the Sena (and later NCP) broke away from the larger parties and sided the BJP, bringing it back to power.

Mr Modi, for his part, appears quite open to what would be a sensational reunion.

READ | PM Advises Uddhav, Sharad Pawar To Reunite With Sena, NCP

Earlier this month he urged the Uddhav Thackeray- and Sharad Pawar-led Sena and NCP factions to merge with their breakaway units instead of “dying by merging” with the Congress. “… nakli (fake) NCP and nakli Shiv Sena have made up their minds to merge with the Congress… but instead of dying, come to Ajit Pawar (the rebel NCP leader) and Eknath Shinde (the boss of the Sena splinter unit),” he said.

The Prime Minister also said he stood ready to help Mr Thackeray at any time, citing the “love and affection of Balasaheb Thackeray (Mr Thackeray’s late father and the Sena patriarch) towards me”.

“Anything Is Possible”

Mr Rana’s claim has been backed, cautiously, by Union Social Justice Minister Ramdas Athawale, who told news agency ANI that “what Ravi Rana said can turn out to be true in the time to come”.

“It is essential too. Uddhav Thackeray was with the BJP for a very long time…Anything is possible in politics. If Uddhav Thackeray comes, he will be welcomed…” he said.

MLA Also Predicts Success For Wife

Meanwhile, Mr Rana also backed his wife to retain the Lok Sabha seat she won in 2019 as an independent candidate; she edged out the Shiv Sena’s two-time sitting MP Anandrao Adsul.

READ | “Ram Bhakts…”: BJP Leader Navneet Rana’s Fresh Dare To A Owaisi

“Navneet Rana will become MP again as all sections voted for her in large numbers…”

The ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ Row

Ravi Rana and Navneet Rana were also at the centre of a row with Mr Thackeray in 2022.

This was back when both were independent lawmakers and Mr Thackeray was Chief Minister.

The Ranas were arrested in April that year amid a wider row over ultimatums – by the Chief Minister’s cousin and MNS boss Raj Thackeray – to remove loudspeakers at mosques and threats to disrupt the muezzin at places of worship by playing the ‘Hanuman Chalisa‘ at louder volumes.

The Ranas had threatened to recite the ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ outside Mr Thackeray’s residence, prompting a massive security sweep. Cops took then into custody citing law and order concerns.

In December last year a Mumbai court junked a discharge plea by the couple – out on bail in that case – in a related matter – resisting arrest and obstructing the police from performing their duties.

Exit Polls On Maharashtra Result

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has the edge in the battle for Maharashtra’s 48 Lok Sabha seats, multiple exit polls said last week. Four of 11 have the NDA winning at least 30 seats.

Two others give the BJP coalition between 24 and 32 seats, and three others give it over 26.

READ | Big Win For BJP In Maharashtra, Congress And Co To Struggle: Exit Polls

The MVA is expected to win, at best, only 25 seats; ABP News-C Voter gives them 23-25 and TV9 Bharatvarsh-Polstrat predicts 25 flat. And only four others believe it will cross the 20-seat mark.

Health warning: Exit polls often get it wrong.

Overall, Mr Modi’s BJP is strongly tipped to claim a third consecutive term.

READ | PM Hat-Trick, Powered By South, Bengal, Odisha: Exit Polls

All 12 exit polls give the BJP over 300 seats each in a race where the majority mark is 272, and two (India Today-Axis My India and India TV-CNX) even give the saffron party over 400 seats each.

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