Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut on Thursday praised former ally Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling him the ‘top leader of the country’ and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. The Shiv Sena leader’s remark came a day after the one-on-one meeting between Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the PM in Delhi. The one-on-one meeting had been a component of a larger consultation with the PM that also included Maharashtra DyCM Ajit Pawar from NCP and Minister Ashok Chavan from Congress.
Raut was responding to a question on whether he felt that PM Modi’s popularity was going down, since the party is looking to project state leaders as the face in assembly elections, instead of the PM himself.
“I don’t want to comment on this… I don’t go by the media reports. There is no official statement about this… The BJP owes its success to Narendra Modi in the last seven years and currently, he is the top leader of the country and his party,” Raut told reporters in Jalgoan, on his tour to north Maharashtra.
Shiv Sena’s stand has always been that a Prime Minister belongs to the entire country and not a particular party, hence the PM shouldn’t get involved in election campaigning as it puts pressure on the official machinery, he added.
Reacting to Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil’s remarks that his party would befriend the tiger (Shiv Sena) if Modi wished, Raut said, “No one can make friendship with a tiger. It is the tiger that decides whom he wants to be friends with.”
Referring to his tour of north Maharashtra, Raut said it was part of the Shiv Sena’s efforts to strengthen the organisation. “All Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) allies have a right to expand their base and strengthen the parties. It is also the need of the hour. We are also holding meetings on strengthening our coordination among each other,” he said.
PM-CM meeting part of personal relations: Sena
Maharashtra’s ruling Shiv Sena said on Wednesday that it has always valued personal relations irrespective of political affiliation. The meeting between CM Thackeray and PM Modi was part of personal relations and protocol, it added. The ‘personal’ meeting between Uddhav Thackeray and the Prime Minister had set political circles abuzz against the backdrop of Shiv Sena severing ties with its oldest ally BJP Maharashtra Assembly elections in October 2019 and forming Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government with the NCP and Congress.
While responding to this buzz, Maharashtra CM on Tuesday said there was nothing wrong in having such interaction, adding sarcastically that he had not met Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif.