Shiv Sena had earlier said Rahul Gandhi is capable of leading the country.
Shiv Sena, the crotchety ally of BJP at the state and the centre, today said Gujarat elections have "turned Rahul Gandhi into a leader" and the BJP should have a "big heart to accept this". The praise for Mr Gandhi was combined with a comment that was not too flattering for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has launched numerous attacks on the Congress leader in the run-up to the Gujarat elections. The last of these was on Monday, when he said he congratulated the Congress on its "Aurangzeb Raj" - a reference to the 47-year-old Congress Number Two's unopposed election as the party chief.
"The (Gujarat) election, which is touted by the BJP to be a sure win, seems to have tired Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as it has turned Rahul Gandhi into a leader," read an editorial on Saamna, the magazine linked to Shiv Sena. "The polls have proved that Rahul Gandhi is not a Pappu anymore. The BJP should have a big heart and accept this," the party said, referring to a name used by BJP supporters to mock Rahul Gandhi.
Taking a dig at PM Modi for dubbing Mr Gandhi's expected elevation, the Sena said, "Such comments prove that the Prime Minister considers Rahul Gandhi an opponent and that he has become an able leader."
Rahul Gandhi has visited a number of temples during his rally in Gujarat.
Sharper comments were reserved for the BJP. The editorial went on to add: "Gandhi will have to carve a way out of the dense fog of vilification and political maze the BJP has created for the party."
The article also offered an alternative view on Mr Gandhi's repeated visits to temples while canvassing for votes in the Gujarat elections - a matter that has irked the BJP. A section of key party leaders, including Yogi Adityanath, had commented on it and accusations have ranged from Congress's motives to Mr Gandhi's lack of knowledge of the religion.
Today, BJP chief Amit Shah has even asked Mr Gandhi to spell out his stand on the Supreme Court hearings on the Ayodhya Ram temple issue
, adding, "On the one hand, temples are being visited ahead of elections. On the other hand, they are trying to delay hearing of the Ram Janmabhoomi case".
PM Narendra Modi has launched numerous attacks on the Congress leader in the run-up to the election.
The Saamna editorial said the BJP should be happy that Mr Gandhi is visiting temples. "The BJP is even angry with Rahul Gandhi for his visits to temples and offering prayers. On the contrary, it should be welcomed. Rahul Gandhi visiting temples is a win of Hindutva. If he is taking the party towards Hindutva from bogus secularism, the Sangh should welcome it," the editorial read.
The Shiv Sena had changed its stance on Rahul Gandhi earlier this year. Two months ago, its senior leader Sanjay Raut had declared that Mr Gandhi was capable of leading the country and that the "Modi wave has faded."
"Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is capable of leading the country...people want to hear what he is saying...It is wrong to call him 'Pappu'
," he said in a television discussion. "The biggest political power in this country is the people... the voters. They can make a Pappu
of anyone," he had said in an apparent dig at the BJP.