Mumbai | Jagran Politics Desk: In what is likely to create a political storm in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut on Thursday lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling him the "top leader of the country and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

This comes two day after Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena Supremo Uddhav Thackeray held a one-on-one interaction with PM Modi in New Delhi.

Speaking to reporters in Jalgaon, Raut also dismissed reports that PM Modi's popularity is on a downslide as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), BJP's ideological mentor, is contemplating to project state leaders as the face in the state elections.

However, the senior Shiv Sena leader said that the Prime Minister should get involved in "election campaigning as it puts pressure on the official machinery".

"I don't want to comment on this...I don't go by the media reports. There is no official statement about this... The BJP owes its success to Narendra Modi in the last seven years and currently, he is the top leader of the country and his party," Raut said.

The Sena and BJP had separated their ways after the assembly elections in Maharashtra in 2019. The Sena later joined hands with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress to form the government in the state.

Since then, Sena has been critical of the BJP and its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Thackeray's meet with PM Modi had set political circles abuzz against the backdrop of the Sena severing ties with its oldest ally BJP.

After his one-on-one meeting with the prime minister, Thackeray on Tuesday said there was nothing wrong in having such interaction, adding sarkily that he had not gone to meet Pakistani leader Nawaz Sharif.

"The Chief Minister's Delhi visit was not for political reasons. Those who see politics in it.....let them be happy with their thinking. There will be a lot of speculations over this meeting. We only hope that Maharashtra's pending issues with the Centre get resolved soon," the Sena mouthpiece Saamana said in the editorial.

Taking a dig at the BJP leadership in Maharashtra, the editorial said they should try to understand the "nature of the Modi-Thackeray relationship" in the context of the meeting. It said the meeting between PM, Thackeray, Ajit Pawar and Chavan lasted for over an hour.

"We do not doubt that the mood was good and the meeting took place in a friendly and cordial atmosphere," it said.

Without naming any state, the Sena said the meeting between Modi and Thackeray was important given that there is no stand-off between the Centre and Maharashtra which is seen elsewhere.

"The present chief minister of Maharashtra is of the firm opinion that the state should get its rightful share," the editorial said.

(With inputs from PTI)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma