In the past, Shiv Sena, BJP's oldest ideological ally, had hinted at its reservations about Modi on several occasions. However, on Friday it welcomed BJP's decision in clear terms. "The decision was expected and that is the mood of the people too," Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said in a statement in Mumbai on Friday evening.

"Nectar has come out of the "samudra manthan" (churning of the sea)," Uddhav said, in apparent reference to the friction within BJP on the issue. "The country is passing through a difficult phase. The Congress-led UPA has taken it to the brink of destruction. The ineffective government and the weak Prime Minister watch haplessly as Pakistan and China nibble at India's borders," he said.

"At such a time, if Modi is being handed reins of elections and the country in order to defeat Congress and rejuvenate Hindutva, the Shiv Sena welcomes the move with an open mind," Uddhav said. Welcoming the announcement by BJP's parliamentary board, senior BJP leader from Maharashtra, Gopinath Munde, said, "The country needs a strong leader like Modi.

"BJP and NDA will emerge victorious in the state and country under the leadership of Modi, who has a clean and progressive image," Munde said. State BJP president Devendra Fadnavis said, "India needs a leader with commitment and spine. India needs Modi."

Shiromani Akali Dal, a key constituent of the NDA, on Friday also welcomed BJP's decision to declare Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014 Lok Sabha elections, terming it a right decision taken by the party.


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