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On the face of it, it was just one of those “courtesy calls”. Shiv Sena (UBT) scion Aaditya Thackeray and party leader Anil Desai called on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK chief MK Stalin in Chennai on Friday, 10 February.
Aaditya presented Stalin with a photo of his grandfather Balasaheb Thackeray with M Karunanidhi, clicked at the Oberoi hotel in Mumbai when the former dropped in to see him on one of Karunanidhi’s visits to the city. The Tamil Nadu chief minister’s “return gift” to the Shiv Sena (UBT) leader was the book History of Artist M Karunanidhi written by journalist AS Panneerselvan.
As is usual with such courtesy calls, the PR teams of the two parties put out pictures of the meeting, which showed that Stalin’s son and Minister of Youth Welfare and Sports Development Udhayanidhi was also present, along with former MP and DMK spokesman TKS Elangovan.
So, beyond the pleasantries, what transpired at the meeting, which is said to have extended to 20 minutes?
Sources tell South First, the meeting has some significance at a time the DMK is taking an aggressive stance against the BJP-led Union government in Parliament and is also seeking to assert itself at the national level ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
During the meeting, Aaditya is said to have conveyed a message from his father Uddhav Thackeray on possible coordination between the two regional parties for the coming parliamentary elections.
Now Stalin is uniquely placed in the Opposition space. Unlike Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, K Chandrashekar Rao’s BRS, or Pinarayi Vijayan in Kerala, the DMK — as well as the Shiv Sena (UBT) — is on good terms with Congress and tends to be in its camp against the BJP.
At the same, he is on extremely good terms with Vijayan (practically a bromance there), as well as KCR (he will be in attendance when the new Telangana Secretariat is inaugurated later this month) and Mamata Banerjee (who dropped in to have a chat just a couple of months ago).
Clearly, the DMK and the Shiv Sena see themselves as the bridge that could span the chasm between the Congress and the regional forces ranged against the BJP. And Aaditya seems to be his father’s emissary on this front. Last November, he had met West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee on a similar mission.
We called on Tamil Nadu CM Shri Stalin ji today at his residence. Presented him with a memory of Shri Karunanidhi ji meeting Hinduhriday Samrat Balasaheb Thackeray. @mkstalin @CMOTamilnadu @Udhaystalin @ianildesai pic.twitter.com/ur4nfRYulF
— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) February 10, 2023