Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday extended a warm welcome to Gujarat Patidar leader Hardik Patel, a staunch opponent of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Patel, 24, who arrived in Mumbai late on Monday night, claimed there was no political agenda and he had come to pay homage to the late Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray and seek Thackeray's blessings as an 'elder'.
"Maharashtra is a land of valiant people and I have come to meet some of the good people here... Presently, the country is being run by undesirable people," Patel said, interacting with the crowded media contingent jointly with Thackeray at the latter's residence, Matoshree, Bandra.
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To a question, Patel said he would support the 11 Gujarati candidates nominated by the Shiv Sena for the ensuing BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections but would not directly campaign for the party.
"I am still young and learning... Why should the Shiv Sena need me? It's a tiger and a tiger needs no one," said Patel, sidestepping any suggestions of a possible tie-up with Shiv Sena after his first meeting with the party leaders on Tuesday.
On his part, lauding Patel's campaign for the uplift of the people of Gujarat, Thackeray said he (Patel) would be the face of the Shiv Sena in the next assembly elections in the neighbouring state.
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"We always maintain our friendships firmly, and never break them till the opposite person snaps it," Thackeray remarked in what was perceived to be a mild warning to Patel.
Reacting to the meeting, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis remarked: "The ground is slipping under them, so they have to call anybody and take such steps."
Patel is to take part in a road-show for his friend Biren Limbachaya and Shiv Sena candidate in the BMC polls, and campaign for him in Goregaon area of north-west Mumbai.
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Around 15 percent of voters in Mumbai comprise affluent Gujaratis who are mostly into businesses, trading and entrepreneurship and are wooed by all political parties for the BMC elections.