Bal Thackeray once backed Sushma Swaraj for PM’s post: Sanjay Raut

Mumbai: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday expressed grief over the "irreparable loss" his family has suffered following the demise of former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, whom party patriarch Bal Thackeray had once backed as NDA's prime ministerial face.

Swaraj, the veteran BJP leader, died in New Delhi on Tuesday after suffering a massive cardiac arrest. She was 67.

Uddhav said Swaraj's death marks an end of a "resplendent era" in Indian politics.

He recalled that his father Bal Thackeray shared an affectionate rapport with the BJP leader.

"A resplendent era in India's politics has come to a halt with the demise of Sushma Swaraj. It is not only the country and the BJP, but the Thackeray family too has suffered an irreparable loss. The rapport (late) Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray and Sushmaji shared was affectionate one," Uddhav Thackeray's office quoted him as saying on Twitter.

Sena MP Sanjay Raut also paid tributes to Swaraj and recalled that she was Bal Thackeray's first choice as the prime ministerial contender, when current PM Narendra Modi had still not emerged on the national scene and was active in Gujarat politics.

"Balasaheb saw her as a firm leader. She had thanked him for blessing her. Such was their relationship," Raut told a regional news channel.

The Shiv Sena founder, in an interview to Raut carried in party mouthpiece 'Saamana' in September 2012, said, "At present there is only one person who is intelligent, brilliant - Sushma Swaraj."

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