"An Opposition front is not possible without Congress. The face of the opposition front may be a matter of discussion, said Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut shortly after his long meeting with Rahul Gandhi.
He also said that Rahul Gandhi will soon visit Mumbai. There should be only one opposition front. It was a long meeting with Rahul Gandhi. He will first meet Uddhav Thackery & then we'll talk about it, replied Raut on being asked whether Shiv Sena will join UPA?
Days after Shiv Sena objected to Mamata Banerjee's scathing criticism of the Congress party, Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut is expected to meet Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today.
Before his meeting with Congress MP Rahul Gandhi later on Tuesday, Shiv Sena MP and Chief Spokesperson Sanjay Raut has declared that the "Maha Vikas Aghadi government is like a mini-United Progressive Alliance" which is doing well.
He said there has been a lot of media speculation whether the Sena is joining the UPA and if it would support the Congress in the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Goa and other states.
"The Congress is in power along with Sena and NCP in the MVA and the state government is doing very well. We function on the basis of a Common Minimum Programme, similar to the UPA or even the NDA where parties with different views come together for the national cause," Raut pointed out.
He said in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), during the leadership of the late Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, there were many having ideological differences and some even opposing the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, but they all worked together.
"The MVA also has three parties with dissimilar views working on a common minimum programme. It is an experiment and the MVA is like a mini-UPA... Such experiments must be emulated elsewhere in the country," Raut urged.
Whether the UPA or the Opposition parties, they should come forward and provide alternatives, and this is the viewpoint of both Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray as well as NCP President Sharad Pawar, he asserted.
Raut's statements assume significance, coming barely a week after All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had loudly hammered coffin-nails for the UPA following her meetings with Sena and Nationalist Congress Party leaders in Mumbai, while the Congress was kept out.
As a seething Congress reacted furiously, the Sena not only reiterated -- akin to the NCP -- that "no opposition unity was possible in the country without the Congress", but Raut also decided to mend the fences by meeting with Rahul Gandhi and possibly even Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
On his upcoming rendezvous with Rahul Gandhi, he said the Sena strongly believes in dialogue with its allies and they would discuss Maharashtra, the functioning of the MVA and the future course for the country as a whole.
To a query whether the Sena will join the UPA and unitedly fight the oncoming Assembly elections in different states, Raut shot back that for all these issues, CM Thackeray will take the final call after considering all factors and discussing with the MVA partners.
Raut has chosen to make a strong case for the inclusion of Congress in the non-BJP front when there is perceptible camaraderie between Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Besides, Raut has come quite close to Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and both the parties have hinted that their alliance will remain in place in the state assembly and general elections.
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