Stomach This

The Way the Biscuit Crumbles

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MUMBAI ~ Recently, after much dilly-dallying, BJP President Nitin Gadkari met Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray at the latter’s residence, Matoshree. Gadkari’s distaste of paying obeisance at Matoshree is no secret, so when the two met, there was forced warmth in the air.

Though the meeting was held at 9 pm, reportedly dinner time in the Thackeray household, Gadkari, a foodie, was only offered biscuits. This is not the usual practice at Matoshree. Those who know Thackeray well say he is a gracious host who rarely lets a high-profile guest leave without a proper meal. The importance of the guest is directly related to the meal and drinks served, say sources. Thackeray himself is non-vegetarian, and the food at Matoshree is known to be delicious.

The naïve were surprised at this lack of courtesy. But according to a close Thackeray aide, the snub was deliberate. The Sena chief wanted to let Gadkari know that the former still held the upper hand in their relationship.

Gadkari loves his food. And while he does not enjoy meeting Thackeray, he must have been looking forward to a sumptuous meal cooked by the culinary geniuses at Matoshree. A Gadkari aide says, “Generally, you begin with biscuits, and a meal follows. In this case, there were only biscuits and no meal. Probably Balasaheb did not want to prolong the meeting.”

Another aide of the BJP president says it was Gadkari who avoided eating dinner. Having undergone bariatric surgery some months ago, and having aspirations of leanness, he is watching his weight. “Gadkariji has to maintain his weight. He is now extra careful about his food,” says the aide. Not many are buying this version of the story, though. Even within the BJP, the story is being relished and laughed over.

The BJP and Shiv Sena are alliance partners and their future interactions will indicate whether Gadkari has decided to let go of the biscuit snub. If BJP insiders are to be believed, this is unlikely. There is no greater fury than that of a Gadkari left unfed.