New Delhi: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has done a U-turn on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. A day after he said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has no national leader, Uddhav on Saturday claimed he was talking about the Congress party. The Shiv Sena chief also said that there was nothing wrong in being a Hindu nationalist.
Modi sparked a controversy after, in an interview to Reuters, he said that as he was a born Hindu, he can be called a Hindu nationalist.
Dispelling any impression that he was not enthusiastic about Modi as prime ministerial candidate, Uddhav said he has already given his "best wishes" to him after he was appointed the BJP campaign chief for the Lok Sabha elections. "What I had said yesterday about the country needing a reliable face was in the context of Congress which is currently ruling. I was talking about the Congress," he told reporters blaming the media for allegedly misinterpreting his remarks.
Replying to a query, Uddhav made it clear that Hindutva issues like Ram temple were unlikely to take prominence in the opposition campaign as there was need to focus on the "burning problems" faced by the common man due to the "Congress misrule."
The Shiv Sena chief, on his first visit to the national capital after Modi gained centrestage in the BJP, said at the outset that when the Gujarat Chief Minister came to his residence after becoming the campaign chief, he had extended his "best wishes".
"Why I should clarify on things which I have not said in my speech (yesterday). The media is also a responsible part of society," he said, adding "that only you people say that Uddhav has made a U turn."
Addressing a press conference after his meetings with LK Advani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Sushma Swaraj on Friday, he said that it was for the BJP Parliamentary Board to first decide on the prime ministerial candidate and then consult allies like Shiv Sena and Akali Dal. "It is not a hidden fact that due procedure will be followed," he said sidestepping all questions on the leadership issue.
To a question about Shiv Sena's support to Sushma Swaraj as the PM candidate when Bal Thackeray was alive, he said when his father spoke of the issue no other leader's name was doing the rounds. He said the decision about the PM candidate is to be taken "within four walls" and suggested that he does not want to complicate matters by making any remarks.
(With additional information from PTI)