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BJP chief Amit Shah today landed in Mumbai on a three-day visit and headed straight for Shivaji Park where he paid floral tributes to Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray, a gesture seen as an attempt to smooth the ruffled feathers of his party's oldest saffron ally.
Political observers are attaching special significance to Shah paying a visit to Bal Thackeray's memorial as it came days after the Sena warned of taking an "independent stand" on backing a candidate in the presidential election.
Shah's earlier visit to Mumbai as BJP president did not include a trip to Shivaji Park.
"Shah is also visiting 'Matoshree', the Thackerays' residence, on Sunday to meet Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.
The BJP chief's upcoming meeting with Thackeray comes amid repeated attack by the Sena on its senior ally and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over a host of issues including the Army's surgical strike, farm loan waiver and amid the talk of a possible snap assembly poll in Maharashtra.
The Shiv Sena had backed Congress's presidential nominees--Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee-- against official NDA candidates in the last two elections.
Shah landed here this morning as part of his extensive tour programme of various states to expand BJP's footprint.
After coming out of the airport, Shah accepted the greetings of BJP workers who had gathered outside. The BJP president then visited Shivaji Park to offer floral tributes to Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji, B R Ambedkar, Veer Savarkar and Bal Thackeray.
He also interacted with some editors and is scheduled to formally address the media tomorrow.
Shah also met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and BJP ministers in the Maharashtra government, besides party MPs, MLAs and state unit office bearers.
Tomorrow, Shah would meet the core committee members of the state BJP unit.
On Sunday, he will attend a meeting in connection with Deendayal Upadhyaya's birth centenary year celebrations. Upadhyaya was one of the tallest leaders of Bhartiya Jana Sangh, the forerunner of BJP. He will also review the progress of various programmes aimed at strengthening the party at the booth level.