One of the oldest members of the NDA since it was formed in 1998, the Shiv Sena is officially out of the BJP-led alliance, and although “not yet” part of the opposition UPA, the party will be with the Congress-led alliance “on key national issues”, senior Sena leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut said on Tuesday.
Considered close to Maharashtra Chief Minister and party chief Uddhav Thackeray, Raut on Tuesday said the party did not attend Monday’s Opposition meeting, convened by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to form a strategy against the citizenship law (CAA), NRC and NPR, due to “miscommunication”.
Asked whether the Sena will be part of such meetings in future, he said, “Yes, we will attend all meetings of opposition parties.”
Raut told The Indian Express, “We would have attended the (anti-CAA) meeting, but there was some miscommunication. First we thought the Chief Minister had been invited. But later it became known that any top leader could attend the meeting. In this confusion, we could not make it to the meeting.”
Asked whether this means the Sena is ready to join UPA, Raut said, “Not as of now. If there is an offer to join UPA, we will discuss it in the party and take a decision.” But, he added, the party is not with the NDA any longer. “We are out of NDA and are not attached to any group (at present),” he maintained.
Raut said if the UPA takes a stand on any national issue or issues of national security, the Sena will take the decision to join the Opposition ranks. “On key national issues, we will be with the UPA,” he said.
In Maharashtra, he pointed out, the party is already with two key UPA constituents — the Congress and the NCP — and implementing a common minimum programme. “We are also sort of part of the UPA,” he added.
Shiv Sena has 18 members in Lok Sabha and three in Rajya Sabha.