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Ally soccer punch to Big brother

BJP president Amit Shah showing victory sign after the no-confidence motion proceedings at Parliament House in New Delhi on Friday. Picture by Prem Singh

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have trumped the no-confidence vote like France won the Fifa World Cup but Rahul Gandhi has won hearts like runners-up Croatia did, the Shiv Sena said on Saturday seeking to provoke ally BJP some more.

Sena MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut delivered the latest punch to the bigger partner a day after his party had stayed away from the House, refusing to back the government against the no-confidence motion.

"France won the football World Cup final but Croatia is remembered for the way in which they played. Rahul is being talked about in the same way," Raut said in Mumbai, indicating the Sena was spoiling for a showdown with the BJP.

Rahul Gandhi winks after hugging PM Modi in the Lok Sabha on Friday. Source: ABPLive

Raut even gave the thumbs-up to Rahul's surprise embrace of Modi in the House. "Rahul's gesture was directed to attract attention. If Rahul did it to give a jolt to Modi, he has succeeded," he said.

Senior BJP leaders in Delhi felt the long partnership with the party's oldest ally had reached breaking point and would be impossible to salvage. Officially, the ruling party kept a poker face but its members slammed the Sena's "betrayal" in private conversation.

"The Sena has lost the moral right to remain in the government. Its ministers should quit," a BJP insider said. The Sena shares power with the BJP both at the Centre and in Maharashtra but has for months been sniping at its ally at every opportunity.

A Sena politician claimed that BJP president Amit Shah had made several calls to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Friday but "Uddhavji didn't come on the line".

He said Shah had tried to contact Uddhav after Sena mouthpiece Saamana had in an editorial castigated the Modi government, providing a hint that the Sena would not back the government in the House. Later, he said, Shah called again after Sena members skipped the Lok Sabha,

A senior BJP politician in Delhi had claimed that Shah had spoken to Uddhav two days ahead of the no-trust vote and the Sena chief had assured support to the government. The Sena had initially issued a whip asking MPs to be present and support the government but later changed its mind.

Sena insiders said their House leader Chandrakant Khaire had issued the whip on the mistaken assumption that Uddhav had decided to support the government after the phone conversation with Shah.

"Khaire had been misled by the BJP managers in Delhi. When he realised there was no clear directive from Uddhavji, he withdrew the whip," a Sena insider said.

Sena seniors said there was little possibility of their party going back on its decision to end the alliance with the BJP next year.

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