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Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut Says Party May Join Hands with Congress to Take on BJP in Uttar Pradesh, Goa

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had an hour-long meeting with Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday to explore the option of an electoral alliance in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh and Goa. The meeting comes a day after Raut’s talks with former Congress president Rahul Gandhi. During his meeting with Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday, Raut had asked him to reach out to other anti-BJP forces to join the Congress-led alliance.

The Shiv Sena leader told reporters that Priyanka Gandhi discussed the political situation in Uttar Pradesh and other poll-bound states with him. The meeting comes against the backdrop of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls next year amid the Congress’ assertions of going it alone.

Raut said the meeting with Priyanka was “positive” and added, “we are thinking of working together in Uttar Pradesh and Goa.” The two parties will go to polls next year. A Sena functionary said that an alliance between Shiv Sena and Congress will help take on BJP in the poll-bound states. “Without Hindutva and hardline nationalism, no party can take on BJP at the national level. We have both with us and can give a tough fight to BJP,” he was quoted by Times of India as saying.

Raut, however, evaded a reply on the possibility of the Sena joining the Congress-led UPA. He said he would discuss certain issues with party supremo and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray first.

After the meeting the Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday, Raut said the Sena has already stated that no opposition front is possible without the Congress. “I have not talked about any leader leading the front. I am only saying there should be only one front. If there are two-three fronts, then it cannot be an alternative. Only then can we present an alternative (to the BJP),” he stressed.

Arch-rivals in the state until 2019, the Sena and the Congress came together along with the NCP to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.