After hitting out at Modi, Thackeray backtracks

Mumbai, June 25 (IANS) Hours after criticizing Narendra Modi for his claims about Uttarakhand rescue operations, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray backtracked, clarifying that he had not attacked the Gujarat chief minister in his editorial in party mouthpiece "Saamana" Tuesday.

"I have not attacked Narendra Modi. But, now he has been given a new role on the national stage. We have some expectations from him," Thackeray told media persons at a media briefing here.

He added that the observations were directed more at Modi's propaganda team and "nothing political should be read into this".

Thackeray reiterated that Modi is a national leader and they have nothing against him. "He is not our enemy."

This is the second consecutive day that Shiv Sena has irked its ally, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) through its scathing Saamana editorials.

Thackeray had Monday expressed "concerns" over the depleting strength of the National Democratic Alliance, which is now left with only three major constituents the BJP, the Sena and Akali Dal.

In the backdrop of the recent political upheavals within the BJP, he had also raised questions whether the party was equipped to bag power on its own strength.

More embarrassing for the BJP was Thackeray's lavish praises for Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan while Modi was given a strong tongue-lashing for his claims in the ongoing rescue efforts for Uttarakhand deluge victims.

Thackeray had lauded Chavan for adopting a broad-minded approach and ridiculed Modi for his parochial attitude while tackling the disaster fallout.

Targetting the chief minister, the Shiv Sena president said that now Modi has been given a national role to play by the BJP and he should not speak in narrow terms for only Gujaratis.

"Most of the rescue works are being carried out by the Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. They don't discriminate on the basis of the victims' state of origin or religion, but rescue them as human beings," he asserted.

Thackeray hit out at Modi's propaganda machinery for claiming that 15,000 people from Gujarat were rescued in a day.

"It would be better if Modi's propagandists exercise restrain in the future," Thackeray concluded.

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