MUMBAI: In a significant move, senior Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut joined Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Kashmir on Friday. He heaped praises on the Congress leader saying that he look up to Rahul Gandhi as a leader who can raise his voice against all odds in the nation.
“I am not talking about political things but the scenarios and atmosphere of the country are changing currently and among all this, I look up to Rahul Gandhi as a leader who can raise his voice against all odds in the nation,” Raut said.
“Bharat Jodo Yatra coming to Kashmir is a huge thing. Yatra should have started from here only to unite the nation. This is the only reason I came from Shiv Sena's side because we want the nation to unite,” he added.
Raut is on a three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir and earlier met with government employees from the Kashmiri Pandit community, who are demanding their relocation to a safe place alleging targeted killing of their colleagues and minorities in Kashmir.
The Sena leader also spoke about the talks he had with Gandhi during the yatra. “Rahul Gandhi was worried about me as knew why I was arrested. However, he and I share the same belief that one should not bow before the dictatorship. After hugging me, he told that he respects me that,” Raut said.
In November, Gandhi, while busy with the yatra, had called Raut, who was released from the ED custody after being granted bail in a money laundering case. The Sena MP had praised the Congress leader for showing ‘a sign of humanity.’
However, the BJP slammed the Sena leader saying that more Raut walks with Rahul Gandhi, it will make things tougher for the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.
“More Mr Raut walks with Congress, more difficult it will become for the Congress in Maharashtra,” BJP leader Ashish Shelar said.
Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde-led faction of the Shiv Sena has hit out at Raut for joining the Yatra. “Balasaheb Thackeray had once said he would never go with the Congress. But today, they (members of the Uddhav faction) are working against his ideals and stand. Sanjay Raut is working against Balasaheb’s ideals. There’s no debate anymore on which is the real Shiv Sena,” Shambhuraj Desai, an MLA from the Shinde faction, said.