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We founded, nurtured NDA, says Shiv Sena

Mumbai: The Shiv Sena Thursday claimed it was the founder of the National Democratic Alliance and responsible for its survival even after nearly two dozen smaller parties deserted it after the debacle in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

"The National Democratic Alliance's birth, naming ceremony and other functions were witnessed by the Shiv Sena...," an edit in the party mouthpiece 'Saamana' said Thursday.

"There were 23 parties in NDA during the Vajpayee government... Most of them deserted... At the end, only Akali Dal and Shiv Sena were left... Shiv Sena stuck with NDA even during its worst periods...," the edit said.

The assertion followed a suggestion by Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetti to the Shiv Sena not to leave the NDA after the six-party Grand Alliance in the state collapsed Sep 25.

This week, there was intense speculation that the Sena's lone cabinet minister Anant Geete would quit the central government as a first step towards Sena's withdrawal from the NDA.

Later, however, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray backtracked, saying whether or not Geete would resign would be decided after holding discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his return from the US visit.

Taking umbrage at Shetti's call, the Sena pointed out that even before "these four self-proclaimed friendly parties were born, the Shiv Sena was part of NDA", referring to Swabhimani Shetkari Saghatana, Republican Party of India (A), Rashtriya Samaj Paksh and Shiv Sangram, which are now allied with the BJP in Maharashtra.

Lashing out at Shetti for his comment, the Sena said he had threatened to launch an agitation on the streets of Maharashtra if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not take decisions in the interest of the state's farmers.

"What happened... Are you satisfied with the BJP government?" the Sena demanded, adding that some crumbs were thrown to the rats and they kept quiet.

Accusing the BJP of breaking the Grand Alliance before the Oct 15 assembly elections in Maharashtra, the 'Saamana' edit said that Shetti was in favour of continuing it and fighting elections jointly with the Shiv Sena.

"Now, he has allied with the BJP and even threatening to quit the NDA if farmers' interests were not protected... Why the dual speak? Earlier, he had been pulled up by the state BJP for speaking against the Modi government, but ultimately what happened?" it said.

"However, we did not change our ideology or our party... Whether to continue with the NDA or not, the decision will be entirely ours," the edit concluded.

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