Rahul Gandhi wishes Uddhav Thackeray on birthday, sets off speculation

A senior Shiv Sena functionary said, “Rahul Gandhi’s birthday wish to Thackeray was a pleasant surprise and it has come for the first time.”

Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s birthday wish to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has created a flutter in political circles. On Friday morning, Rahul tweeted, “Best wishes to Shri Uddhav Thackeray ji, on his birthday. I wish him good health and happiness always.” The Shiv Sena president replied on Twitter, “thanks”. A senior Shiv Sena functionary said, “Rahul Gandhi’s birthday wish to Thackeray was a pleasant surprise and it has come for the first time.”

The Sena functionary said the move should be seen as a goodwill gesture and not a political one. “It is good the Congress has realised Thackeray is a national leader. It appears the Congress has started realising the potential of Sena.”

Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “Rahulji wishing Uddhavji birthday is part of our tradition and culture. It should not be equated to politics.” He ruled out the possibility of any alliance between the two parties, saying they are “ideologically different”.

State Congress leaders, however, said Rahul’s birthday wish to Thackeray took them by surprise. A general secretary in the state Congress unit said, “Frankly speaking, we were not aware of any such decision. It appears Rahulji is trying to build a rapport with political leaders across states and parties.”

The leader added, “There is no question of any direct or indirect pre-poll alliance between the Congress and Shiv Sena. The Congress is a pan-Indian party. An alliance with Sena would go against us in UP and Bihar.”

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