Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray today dared Narendra Modi to quit as Gujarat chief minister after entering the race for the Prime Minister's post.
"Wherever Mr Modi goes, he talks only about Gujarat. It would be better if he resigns from the chief minister's post, and talk only about national issues,'' Mr Thackeray said in remarks that surprised many, since the MNS founder shares a very good relationship with the BJP's prime ministerial face. (Raj Thackeray dares Narendra Modi)
Mr Thackeray's challenge to Mr Modi sparked off speculation about a change in their equations. The BJP has a long-standing alliance with the Shiv Sena, which is headed by Mr Thackeray's estranged cousin, Uddhav.
Mr Thackeray was among the select few who were invited to attend Mr Modi's swearing in as chief minister of Gujarat for the fourth successive term in December, 2012. He also visited Mr Modi during his Sadbhavana fast at Ahmedabad in 2011.
The MNS leader's comment invited a swift reaction from the BJP. "Modi's speeches are on all national issues. Mr Raj Thackeray's advice is not needed. The increasing clout of Modi is disturbing many leaders, and he is wise enough to decide what to do and what not to do. ,'' Maharashtra BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis said in Nagpur.
Asked about the prospects of Aam Aadmi Party, which made a stunning debut in Delhi assembly polls, in Maharashtra, the MNS leader said his party was still its "baap" in the state.
"There is no need of AAP, we - the baap - are here. Today, you are all talking about AAP, but I have been saying for the last many years that vote me to power in Maharashtra because things cannot change otherwise." he said.