Shiv Sena MP Rawat, who had invited Gandhi to visit Maharashtra last month to meet Chief Minister Uttam Thackeray, made the call again on Tuesday.
During the meeting with each other, Rahul asked Rawat for his views on the performance of the Congress in Maharashtra. “We had an hour-long meeting … this was a one-on-one meeting with no other leader,” Rowet told the Indian Express in the evening.
“There was not one issue on our agenda, but many issues … We discussed not only national issues but also issues related to Maharashtra. There was a discussion about the functioning of the government in the state and the performance of the Congress. Rahul is keen to strengthen the Congress in Maharashtra and across the country,” he said. Rawat said he had discussed some issues. “Rahul sought suggestions to strengthen the Congress in Maharashtra,” he added.
Sources close to Rawat said that Rahul had specifically invited him because he was close to Chief Minister Uttam Thackeray and the only strong link of the Congress with the Shiv Sena.
The meeting is significant as the BJP continues to send to the Shiv Sena the possibility of the two parties reuniting. At the same time, at least two Sena leaders spoke openly about the “natural ally of the BJP Shiv Sena”. An army chief, Pratap Sarnaik, said the BJP should join hands so that ED raids and other problems faced by army leaders would be reduced.
When they met Rawat Rahul at an all-party meeting last month, they could not meet each other.
“Rawat is a supporter of the Congress. He has been praising both Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra through editorials in Samna, so the Congress has a lot of respect for him,” said a senior Congress leader.