Days after Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut met former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis – a meeting described as “not politics” – Mr Raut appeared to make a U-turn, referring to that meeting and asking “is it a sin to discuss politics?”
“Is it a sin to discuss politics? If two political leaders meet they discuss issues related to the country – farm Bills, J&K, China, Pakistan and COVID-19,” Mr Raut told reporters in Mumbai today.
Earlier today Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil made a similar comment, saying: “If top leaders of two different political parties meet, political discussions do take place. If they sat together for two-and-a-half hours, they didn’t discuss tea-biscuits,” Mr Patil said.
“But it was inconclusive,” he added.
Friday’s meeting between Mr Raut and Mr Fadnavis – at a luxury hotel in a Mumbai suburb – was the first since their acrimonious split last year. The former allies broke up after disagreements over power-sharing following their victory in last year’s Assembly election.
After that meeting Mr Raut said the two had met for an interview in “Saamana” – the Sena mouthpiece for which he is Executive Editor.
“I met Fadnavis for his interview for “Saamana“. This was pre-decided. Even Uddhav Thackeray was aware of this,” he told reporters, adding, cryptically, that Mr Fadnavis was not “our enemy”.
Maharashtra BJP chief spokesperson Keshav Upadhye also posted on social media that there was no political angle to the meeting.
The Sena and the BJP contested the state election as allies but fell out over how to form government together, with the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena insisting on a greater share of ministries.
The Sena finally broke off ties with the BJP and formed a government with two rivals – Sharad Pawar’s NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) and the Congress.
On Saturday, a day after Mr Raut and Mr Fadnavis met, Sharad Pawar met Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
News agency PTI, quoting unnamed sources, said the two may have discussed plans to further ease Covid restrictions in place across Maharashtra – the worst-affected state in the country.
With input from PTI, ANI