Shiv Sena MLA Aaditya Thackeray will join the Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Friday evening in Maharashtra’s Nanded district. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, who has not been keeping well, will join the yatra when he recovers, party sources said.
“Shiv Sena leaders Aditya Thackeray and Ambadas Danve will join the Bharat Jodo Yatra around 4 pm in Nanded,” Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe told The Indian Express on Friday.
The meeting between Rahul and Aaditya assumes significance in the wake of the split in the Shiv Sena. Aaditya is likely to seek Rahul’s support in firming up the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance in the backdrop of the confusing signals from the state unit of Congress, said a Shiv Sena leader. “The Shiv Sena wants to win the Mumbai civic body polls at any cost. However, Congress, instead of supporting Sena, is talking about going it alone. Aaditya might raise the BMC polls issue with Rahul,” the Sena leader said.
Shiv Sena sources said Uddhav Thackeray too was keen on joining the yatra but would not be able to do so due to his health. “Since Aaditya has struck a good rapport with Rahul, the party decided to send him,” a Sena source said.
Another key Shiv Sena leader, Sanjay Raut, who was granted bail by a special court two days ago, is also likely to join the yatra. “When my party tells me, I will join the yatra,” Raut said at a press conference in Mumbai on Thursday. Raut, who is known for his proximity to Rahul, said he is currently seeking medical treatment and will take a call on joining the yatra once he is medically fit. “Whenever I am in Delhi, I meet Rahul Gandhi. We discuss several important national issues,” Raut had told The Indian Express a few months ago.
On Thursday, NCP state party chief Jayant Patil, MP Supriya Sule and former minister Jitendra Awhad joined the yatra. Pawar too was expected to join the yatra on Friday but will not be able to make it. “Our party chief is recovering at his home. He is keen to join the yatra but that will happen only when he fully recovers. Currently, he is not even meeting party leaders. The yatra will be in Maharashtra for next 10 days. We hope he will be able to make it,” NCP state spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said.
“Today is the last day in Nanded. After this, the yatra will move to a neighbouring district,” Londhe said, adding that the yatra was crossing 25 km every day.