Mumbai: Shiv Sena's declaration of support for Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj as NDA's Prime Ministerial candidate on Tuesday is the latest in a series of pronouncements the party has made on who should be the NDA nominee for the country's top job.

In September last year, in an interview published in the party mouthpiece 'Saamana', the late Sena chief Bal Thackeray had said Swaraj was his preference for PM's post.

Thackeray had said he would back Swaraj as she was the only "deserving and brilliant" person who fitted the bill. "She's a savvy woman and will perform her job as Prime Minister in a forceful and decisive manner," the late Sena chief had said.

However, last month, the Shiv Sena threw its weight behind Narendra Modi's prime ministerial ambitions. Sena leader Sanjay Raut had then told media, "We have no problem if Modi is declared as the NDA's PM candidate."

"Modi is definitely a strong leader. There is no doubt about that... He has shown the country, shown Gujarat (what he is). Who to make the PM nominee will be NDA's decision, specially that of BJP, which is its largest party," Raut had said.

But today, a day after senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha endorsed the Gujarat Chief Minister, Raut said, "We feel Sushma Swaraj is the suitable candidate for the PM's post."

Raut further reminded that Bal Thackeray had also pitched for Swaraj. Sena recently slammed Modi, BJP's Hindutva poster-boy, for allowing the Pakistan cricket team to play at Rajkot.

Sena observers attribute the party's preference for Swaraj over Modi to the Gujarat Chief Minister's perceived closeness to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray's estranged cousin, MNS chief Raj Thackeray.

Raj had attended Modi's swearing-in ceremony as his special invitee in Gandhinagar last month, though Uddhav was also present there.

Raj's week-long Gujarat tour in 2011 had strengthened his ties with Modi. He was Modi's guest, and after returning to Mumbai, Raj had praised him for good governance and emphasis on development.


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