Sanjay Raut said his party was with the NDA long before the new crop of BJP leaders emerged.
The Shiv Sena has no qualms about targeting the BJP on the Rafale fighter jet deal while remaining a part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) because no single party rules the political coalition, party leader Sanjay Raut told NDTV today.
"We are the NDA. The NDA is not any single party's property," Mr Raut said, pointing out that the Shiv Sena had been a part of the political alliance long before any of the present crop of BJP politicians shot into prominence. He also claimed that there was no need for the Narendra Modi government to be afraid of a joint parliamentary committee probe into the Rafale deal if it has done nothing wrong.
"Rafale is a matter of national security, and questioning the government is not a crime," he said, clarifying that the Shiv Sena wants an investigaton into the AgustaWestland chopper scam too.
Mr Raut then went on to speak on the Ram temple, an issue with which his party regularly targets the Modi government. Even today, the party's mouthpiece — Saamna — had enquired about PM Modi's plans to construct the religious structure in Ayodhya. "He came to power in the name of Lord Ram, but now he says that Lord Ram is not greater than the law. The question now is — if the temple cannot be constructed in the majority government, when will it ever be?" it posed.
Mr Raut repeated the sentiment in his interaction with NDTV. "The BJP has cheated India," he said. "For a long time now, we have been asking people to vote for us in the name of the Ram temple. The construction of the temple should start before 2019, so people can stop playing religious politics."
Fissures have erupted in the relationship between the BJP and the Shiv Sena in recent years, especially in the light of the Amit Shah-led party's newfound prominence in Maharashtra. The regional party has attacked the Narendra Modi government on various issues until now, including demonetisation, black money, the Rafale aircraft deal and the Prime Minister's frequent trips abroad.
Disclaimer: NDTV has been sued for 10,000 crores by Anil Ambani's Reliance Group for its coverage of the Rafale deal