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Sena to play 'crucial' role on nuke deal stalemate

As the UPA-Left stand-off over the Indo-US nuke deal continued, the Shiv Sena says that Bal Thackeray will play a "crucial" role in the unfolding political crisis.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 01, 2008 07:56 PM IST

As the UPA-Left stand-off over the Indo-US nuclear deal continued, the Shiv Sena on Tuesday said that party supremo Bal Thackeray will play a "crucial" role in the unfolding political crisis.

The statement by party spokesman Sanjay Raut, MP, came at a time when the Congress is desperately seeking support from new parties and groups in the wake of threats by Left parties to withdraw support over the nuke deal .

Giving mixed signals, Raut said his party considered that the deal was in national interest, but maintained that his party would not do anything that would be a setback to the NDA of which the Sena with 13 MPs in the Lok Sabha is a constituent.

"We have been the oldest allies of the BJP in the NDA along with the Akali Dal. The NDA cannot be thought of without the Sena," he told PTI, when asked whether the party was ready to do business with the Congress-led UPA.

Raut said that Thackeray was minutely observing the situation arising out of the stalemate over the deal and he takes major decisions and the party follows them.

"Thackeray will play a crucial role" in such a situation, he said.

At the same time, he replied in the negative when asked whether anyone from the government has approached the Shiv Sena for support on the issue.

The refrain of Raut was that no one in the UPA or the NDA was against the deal and what some parties like Shiv Sena BJP wanted was due care to ensure that India did not become subservient to the US.

Raut's statement assumes significance as the Shiv Sena had supported UPA's Pratibha Patil in the Presidential polls breaking ranks with the NDA.

The Sena spokesman was strident in his criticism against Left parties for the continued attempts to derail the deal and apply brakes on government's functioning.

Asked whether the Shiv Sena would extend a helping hand to the Congress if the Left pulled out over the deal, he said, "We will not do anything that will harm the NDA". He insisted at the same time that for Shiv Sena, national interest was upper most and the Left has been keeping the country and the government unstable.

Raut's statement has come close on the heels of Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' coming out sharply against the key outside supporters for their opposition to the Indo-US deal.

An editorial in 'Saamana' had said "there is no doubt that the Indo-US deal will be in the interest of India. This is a fact which everyone knows except the Left parties."

Dubbing the Leftists as "red monkeys", 'Saamana' had said they are taking a hardline stand against the Indo-US deal only to keep China in good humour even at the cost of India's development.

The editorial had said the Left parties go out of the way to please China even if it is not in India's best interests.

"The pain of Left parties stems from their excessive love for China which makes them oppose any move which will strengthen India by improving ties with the US," the editorial had said.

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