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Shiv Sena ready to back Pawar as PM

Bal Thackeray repeats his offer to support the NCP president for the post, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Apr 23, 2007 00:44 IST

Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray is still wooing Sharad Pawar, whose Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) wrested the Pune Municipal Corporation from the Congress by securing support of the Sena more than a month ago.

Thackeray repeated his willingness to back Pawar for the Prime Minister’s post. "Yes, I will certainly support Pawar. He has been a very good friend of mine and in case he decides to join the third front after the Uttar Pradesh elections, I will certainly support his candidature for the post of prime minister," Thackeray said on Aaj Tak's Seedhi Baat programme on Sunday.

In the same breath, Thackeray made it clear that he would never support Congress President Sonia Gandhi becoming the prime minister. "No, I will oppose her. There can't be any comparison between her and Sharad Pawar, Sonia Gandhi is after all imported stuff whereas Sharad Pawar is from our soil," he said.

On March 20, Thackeray used a book-release function at his home to declare that a Shiv Sena alliance with NCP could work wonders for Maharashtra. It came after Pawar’s statement of being open to tie-ups with any party and days after the NCP joined hands with the Sena to keep out the Congress in the Pune corporation. Thackeray was outlining future possibilities.

Asked why the Shiv Sena was opposing a second term for President APJ Abdul Kalam when it supported him at the time of his election, Thackeray told Seedhi Baat that "When the Supreme Court has given the decision, why is he delaying Afzal's hanging? Kalam is not performing his duties properly. He is under pressure. I am not going to support him till Afzal is hanged."

On his retirement from politics, Thackeray said, "I haven't retired from politics. I am an adviser to the Shiv Sena and Udhav. I am like a watchdog in the Sena. I keep an eye on everything and if need be, I hammer."

First Published: Apr 22, 2007 20:17 IST