Uddhav to visit Modi’s constituency Varanasi
His ties with saffron ally BJP under strain, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will visit Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi soon, amid clear indications that the party would contest next year’s assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.
Though Uddhav will visit the holy city apparently to perform Ganga Aarti, the move is being seen as an attempt at testing the political waters in the key Hindi heartland state before taking the electoral plunge.
Sena leader Sanjay Raut confirmed Uddhav will visit Varanasi but did not disclose when. According to sources in the party, the second largest NDA constituent after BJP, it plans to contest around 200 out of the 403 seats in the state, a move which could adversely affect BJP’s prospects in the election in which it is likely to try and exploit to the hilt patriotic sentiments in the aftermath of the cross-LoC surgical strikes. Significantly, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi too had launched her party’s campaign from Varanasi by staging a massive road show on August two.
Raut, a Rajya Sabha MP, who looks after Shiv Sena’s affairs in the state, told PTI that leaders from all the major parties includng BJP, BSP, SP and Congress were in touch with the party which is taking “keen interest” in the elections this time.
Raut dismissed suggestions that Shiv Sena was focusing on Uttar Pradesh as a tit-for-tat after local BJP leaders in Mumbai threatened to go it alone in the Municipal elections in the megapolis.