Fresh political speculation was ignited after an hour-long meeting between Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, of the BJP, and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray here on Monday.
The meeting took place at the Deputy Chief Minister's residence, nearly six weeks after Fadnavis went to Raj Thackeray's home Shivtirth in Dadar on July 15, in what was described as a courtesy call.
Monday's tete-a-tete came a week after the MNS chief bounced back into action after convalescing nearly three months following a hip surgery.
He addressed a meeting of party workers on August 23, and then went to Pune to launch the party's membership campaign and other programmes.
The latest meet on Monday is considered crucial in view of the upcoming civic elections in the state and BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), controlled by the opposition Shiv Sena for nearly three decades.
Though Raj Thackeray and Fadnavis have stopped short of announcing a formal alliance, a possible tie-up or seat sharing is not ruled out, even as top central BJP leaders like national President J.P. Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah are likely to visit Mumbai during the upcoming Ganeshotsav festival starting from August 31.
The Shiv Sena led by ex-CM Uddhav Thackeray is also planning to make a strong bid to retain its hold over the country' biggest and richest civic body, despite Maha Vikas Aghadi, comprising Nationalist Congress Party and Congress, losing power at the state-level on June 29.
The Sena has just cobbled up an alliance with the Maratha group, Sambhaji Brigade, and on Monday, prominent Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Uddhav Kadam joined the party in the presence of Uddhav Thackeray.
The breakaway Sena rebels faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and the BJP plan to give a tough fight to the Shiv Sena in the civic elections not only in Mumbai but also in Thane and other major cities.
Incidentally, the MNS' lone MLA had supported the BJP in the biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council last June after which the Shiv Sena faced a rebellion leading to the collapse of the MVA government.