Hours after it kept away from the no-confidence motion against the National Democratic Alliance government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ruling ally Shiv Sena came out in full praise of Congress President Rahul Gandhi here on Saturday."Rahul is now 'the face of the Opposition' that has become clear and evident from his speech yesterday (on Friday)," said Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who is also Executive Editor of the party mouthpiece "Saamana" which has been sharply critical of the government.The Sena spokesperson added that after Friday's performance in parliament, "Gandhi has proved that he can effectively lead the Opposition"."Rahul Gandhi has demonstrated that gradually, he can effectively lead the Oppositiona People had certain expectations from him. He has lived upto them to a large extent in his speech," Raut said while speaking to a private Marathi news channel Star Majha.On Gandhi giving a surprise hug to Modi and the subsequent wink which flared up the social media, Raut shot back that "he (Rahul) did what Modi does always"."The PM had gone to Pakistan and hugged Nawaz Sharif, what happened? When Rahul hugged Modi, everybody was surprised. He (Raul) showed that he is a successful politician.. And the wink (to his Congress colleagues) indicated that he had succeeded," Raut said.On the Sena's decision to stay away from the no-confidence motion, he said that "sometimes, silence is more important".
"Whether we did or did not, remained present or not, the entire focus nationally was on our party. The Sena President took the decision at aan appropriate time' on this," Raut held.Though the party did not speak by remaining away from the proceedings on Friday, he claimed that sometime silence is important, but "the message went across."He added that whatever was discussed in the Lok Sabha on Friday, the Shiv Sena has been saying for the past four-and-half years.For instance, when demonetization was announced (November 8, 2016), the first person to support it was Telugu Desam Party President N. Chandrababu Naidu, who is also Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, but Sena President Uddhav Thackeray opposed it the very next day, he said."Whether we are in government or not doesn't matter... Balasaheb Thackeray taught us and we never run for power," Raut said.However, he declined to comment on whether BJP President Amit Shah or Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had reached out to the Sena ahead of the no-confidence motion, but mentioned that the NDA I and NDA II are very different."Earlier, George Fernandes was the convenor and the (then) Deputy PM L. K. Advani used to meet and speak with Balasaheb Thackeray. There were relations, it was not just business," Raut pointed out.