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Join us if you are being 'insulted', Uddhav Thackeray tells Nitin Gadkari; BJP leader rebuffs invitation

Join us if you are being insulted, Uddhav Thackeray tells Nitin Gadkari; BJP leader rebuffs invitation

Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray has again asked Union minister Nitin Gadkari to leave the BJP if he is being "insulted", saying the opposition in Maharashtra would ensure his victory in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

However, Gadkari has described Thackeray's invitation as "immature and ridiculous", saying the BJP has a system of selecting candidates for the elections and the Shiv Sena (UBT) leader need not worry about the saffron party leaders.

Speaking at a rally in Maharashtra's Yavatmal district on Tuesday, Thackeray said people like (former Congress leader) Kripashankar Singh, whom the BJP once targeted (over alleged corruption), figured in the saffron party's first list of candidates along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but Gadkari's name was missing.

"I had told Gadkari this two days ago, and I am repeating it again. If you are being insulted, leave the BJP and join the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA). We will ensure your victory. We will make you a minister when our government comes to power, and it will be a post with powers," he said.

The opposition MVA comprises the Shiv Sena (UBT), Sharad Pawar-led NCP (SP) and Congress.

Asked about Thackeray's statement, Gadkari on Tuesday dismissed the suggestion, asserting that the Shiv Sena (UBT) leader need not worry about BJP leaders.

"The suggestion of Thackeray is immature and ridiculous. There is a system of giving tickets to candidates in BJP," he told PTI.

Gadkari said Thackeray's suggestion came much before the BJP's discussion on distribution of tickets in Maharashtra for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Last week, responding to Thackeray's offer to Gadkari to contest as a candidate of the opposition, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis mocked the Sena (UBT) chief, saying it was like a man in the street offering someone to make US president.

Gadkari is a prominent leader of the BJP, but the first list did not have names from Maharashtra as seat-sharing discussions between the BJP and its allies were not complete, Fadnavis had said.

Thackeray, meanwhile, termed the notification of rules under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act as an "election jumla" (slogan).

Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and others coming to India (from neighbouring countries) are welcome but the timing of the notification is suspicious as elections would be soon announced, the former Maharashtra CM said.

It has been more than four years since the abrogation of Article 370, but no elections have taken place in Jammu and Kashmir and Kashmiri Pandits have not yet returned to their homes in Kashmir, he said.

The BJP should first bring Kashmiri Pandits back and then implement the CAA, Thackeray said.

In the coming elections, there is the BJP which is creating enmity between religions and wants to change the Constitution, and on the other hand there is the INDIA bloc which is an alliance of patriots, he said.

"This election will be between `desh-bhakt' (those who love their country) and 'dvesh bhakt' (those who preach hatred)," Thackeray said.

Prime Minister Modi has not yet found time to visit the restive Manipur, he added.

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