Modi finally admits Rahul is rival: Shiv Sena

Mumbai, Dec 6 (IANS): A poll-weary Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finally acknowledged that Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi as a 'serious competitor' as the Gujarat battle enters the final stages, the Shiv Sena said on Wednesday.

Dismissed as a 'Pappu' barely four years back, Gandhi had now emerged as a leader in his own right and he was now 'the Man to Watch' for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Sena said in its mouthpieces 'Saamana' and 'Dopahar Ka Saamana'.

"Whatever be the outcome in Gujarat, after the recent results in Uttar Pradesh civic polls, it is suspected that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are the biggest strength of the BJP," the Sena said.

"Yet, Rahul has proved that he is no more a 'Pappu' and the BJP must accept this magnanimously. There can be differences and fights over ideology which are settled by elections. But creating an atmosphere that 'nobody should oppose or stand against you in politics' is shocking. Under such gloomy circumstances, Rahul is taking over as Congress President," said the edits.

Attacking its ally in Maharashtra and at the Centre, the Sena said the BJP had started attacking and belitting Gandhi's (expected) elevation as Congress President by labelling it as 'Aurangzeb Raj' and it had raised a hue and cry over Gandhi visiting a temple.

"Instead, the BJP should have welcomed Rahul's temple trip, which signals a victory of the 'pro-Hindutva' forces and now he could guide the Congress to adopt a 'soft-Hindutva' line. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) should come forward and felicitate Rahul for this step," the Sena suggested.

Attacking Modi for his 'Aurangzeb Raj' jibes, the Sena countered: "If you have so much aversion to Mughals, then you should order the Maharashtra Chief Minister (Devendra Fadnavis) to get the tombs of both Aurangzeb and Afzal demolished in this state.

"The 'Mughal Raj' type of rule should be avoided by not only by the Congress but by all other political parties. Rahul faces a massive challenge to revitalize the crumbling Congress. What he will do in this direction, everybody will keep a watch," the Sena edit said.

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