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A senior Congress leader on Monday indicated that the party might consider roping in Shiv Sena in the Congress-led alliance at the national level if it withdraws support from the Devendra Fadnavis-led government in Maharashtra. “Let the Sena first withdraw support from the Fadnavis government. The question arises only when it withdraws the support. The Congress leadership might then consider roping it in the alliance led by it,” former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, considered close to party president Rahul Gandhi, told this paper. Chavan’s comments followed speculation that the Congress was considering getting Sena as part of its front after the Sena announced its intention to go solo in the 2019 state and Parliamentary elections.
Sena leaders have indicated that the party might withdraw support to the Fadnavis government anytime. Chavan, however, said the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not allow the Sena to part ways with it. “Modi will not allow Sena to dump the BJP-led alliance for obvious reasons. BJP needs Sena…” he said. Chavan said the BJP will do everything possible to keep the parties within its alliance intact. “The Congress is looking at including some other parties in its front,” he said.
A Congress leader said a former chief minister has already suggested to the party leadership that the Sena should be brought within the Congress-led alliance. The Congress leader suggested that the Sena should be given support in its bastion of Mumbai and in turn, the Sena should support the NCP and the Congress in their strongholds in the Lok Sabha and the state elections. Similarly, it has been suggested that the Congress and the NCP should support Sena in its pocket boroughs in Marathwada. When contacted, Chavan denied that he was the former chief minister who suggested to the party leadership the idea of roping in Sena.
At a press conference last week in Pimpri-Chinchwad, Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut had heaped praises on Rahul Gandhi, stating that it was he (Rahul) who has turned around fortunes of the Congress, which was exemplified by the Gujarat elections. Congress leaders said the Sena mouthpiece “Saamana” too has been for sometime now playing up the Congress president’s speeches and his attack on the Modi government indicating that the party may join hands with the Congress, forgetting the bitterness of the past.