BJP ally Shiv Sena on Tuesday slammed Narendra Modi over his rescue efforts for Gujaratis from flood-ravaged Uttarakhand, terming it as "parochial", and said Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan was "large- hearted" in this mammoth task.
Drawing fire for his "Rambo" act by claiming to have rescued 15,000 marooned Gujaratis on a single day, Modi received flak from Shiv Sena, BJP's oldest ally, which said he should have desisted from such action at a time when he is aspiring to become his party's prime ministerial candidate.
"When Modi is being cheered as the likely prime ministerial candidate, it is detrimental to take a stance that he only thinks for the people of Gujarat," Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said in an editorial in party mouthpiece "Saamana".
"In times of disaster, one has to have a national thinking and not parochial or regional views," Uddhav said, adding Modi's propaganda machinery should keep in mind that though he is Gujarat CM, he is now destined for a national role.
However, doing a U-turn in the afternoon, the Sena leader sought to downplay the issue, saying he did not mean to criticise Modi and that the editorial targeted the Gujarat strongman's propaganda machinery.
"The criticism was not against Modi but his propaganda folks. The opposition is not for Modi but the wrong way in which his work was publicised," he said, adding, "Modi has done good work. What wrong work has he done?"
"Modi is not our enemy. He is a national leader and we don't oppose him," Uddhav told reporters at a hurriedly called press conference in a damage control exercise.
Recalling how his father Bal Thackeray had stood behind the Gujarat chief minister when even allies were gunning for him, Uddhav said,"After the Gujarat riots, when other NDA constituents were clamouring for Modi's removal, it was only Balasaheb who supported him. So, saying that we are opposed to Modi is not true."
"Please don't try to read any political meaning in the editorial," he said.
The Sena mouthpiece's editorial was all praise for Prithviraj Chavan for showing the "large-hearted and magnanimous" side of the state during the ongoing rescue operations.
"Chavan, who visited Uttarakhand, made it clear that though Maharashtra's relief machinery deputed there was for people of the state, others who were stranded there won't be left out," Uddhav said.
While dispatching relief material with a large team of officials, Chavan had said that though the aid was intended for people from the state stranded in Uttarakhand, other victims would not be ignored, the Sena chief said in the editorial.