Amit Shah, president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, arrives in Ahmedabad in November 2017 for a door-to-door campaign for the Gujarat state elections. Photo: Reuters/Amit Dave

Losing key by-elections and failing to wrest the southern state of Karnataka from its political nemesis Congress has perhaps finally pushed India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to mend its ties with its regional allies.

BJP chief Amit Shah will meet Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray in the financial capital Mumbai on Wednesday as the BJP seeks to improve its strained relationship with its key ally in the western state of Maharashtra. The meeting comes in the wake of the Palghar by-election, where Shiv Sena leaders launched multiple attacks on the BJP after it lost the fight for the parliamentary seat.

Shah is meeting Thackeray at Thackeray’s residence in Mumbai as part of an ongoing ‘Sampark for Samarthan’ campaign, where as part of its outreach program for the 2019 elections, BJP functionaries will meet eminent personalities and ask them about the government’s achievements so far, according to media reports.

This meeting will take place only two days after Shiv Sena’s Member of Parliament (MP) Sanjay Raut called the BJP its “biggest political enemy.” Shiv Sena also criticized the BJP’s policies after a small trader committed suicide, criticizing the government for not keeping its promises. Despite Shiv Sena’s hostile conduct, Devendra Fadnavis asked BJP leaders to try for a pre-poll alliance with the Maharashtrian party.

Raut, while addressing reporters, said the party will not be forging an alliance with the BJP. The party’s executive council decided to part ways with the BJP for the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls next year, in a resolution passed unanimously at a meeting held in January this year.

The Rajya Sabha MP defended the move, saying it was taken while keeping “people’s sentiment in mind,” and added that there would not be any changes to that decision. Raut believed that the “country is in such a state of mind that it can accept the Congress or Deve Gowda, but does not want the Modi- Shah duo.”

After its performance in the recent by-elections, and its failure to form a government at the Karnataka assembly, the BJP is on a drive to ameliorate its ties with its allies all over the country. Amit Shah will meet the top leaders of Shiromani Akali Dal, a political party in Punjab, after his meeting with Thackeray in Chandigarh.

The BJP’s Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, Sushil Modi, has also downplayed the Janata Dal (United) remarks and dismissed rumors of a rift. KC Tyagi, the JD(U) spokesperson and national secretary, in a press conference held on Sunday, declared Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar would be the face of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in Bihar.

Sushil Kumar Modi believed there was no contradiction in JD(U)’s stand and told reporters: “Narendra Modi is the country’s prime minister while Nitish Kumar is the leader in Bihar. So the votes we will get in Bihar will be in Narendra Modi’s name and in the name of Kumar’s works. I don’t see any contradiction here. Kumar is the face in Bihar while Narendra Modi is the prime ministerial face in the country.”

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