Drawing a parallel between the FIFA World Cup final and the no-confidence motion, the Shiv Sena on Saturday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi might have emerged victorious like France, but Congress chief Rahul Gandhi won many hearts like runners-up Croatia.
"In the football World Cup final, France won (the title), but Croatia is remembered for the manner in which they played. Rahul is now being talked in the same way. When one plays such politics, he moves four-five steps ahead," Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said.
Responding to Gandhi's hug to Modi, Raut said such gestures were meant to attract attention. If Gandhi did so to give a jolt to Modi, then he has succeeded, Raut told a news channel in New Delhi.
The Rajya Sabha MP said that Gandhi should be congratulated for donning a new avatar during the debate in the Lok Sabha on the no-trust motion on Friday. A combative Gandhi had launched a vitriolic attack on the Modi government on multiple issues, from farmer distress to the Rafale jet deal.
"Modi's speech was like a prime minister's speech... Modi ji is Modi ji. It would not be right to compare Modi ji with anybody. But, even Rahul's speech is being discussed at the same level," the Sena leader said.
Praising Rahul Gandhi, Raut said that he has now "graduated from the real school of politics". "The Congress chief has now graduated from the real school of politics," he told reporters.
Raut added Gandhi's hug to the Prime Minister at the end of his speech was actually a shock for Narendra Modi.
"This wasn't a hug, but a shock to Modi," Raut said, adding that there would be more "tremors" like the act for the BJP.
Raut described the defeat of the no-trust motion as not surprising since the BJP-led NDA enjoyed a comfortable majority in the Lower House. "Power has its own strengths and there is the fear element as well. The country frequently listens to the PM, but heard Rahul (in his new form) for the first time," he added.
The Shiv Sena, a partner of the BJP in the Maharashtra government, had decided to abstain from the no-trust vote in Parliament.
The no-confidence motion against the Modi government was defeated by a margin of 325-126. The no-trust motion -- moved by former BJP ally TDP -- saw Shiv Sena abstaining from voting. The voting took place after an acrimonious debate that witnessed political gamesmanship with Gandhi hugging the PM who hit back, saying he was in a hurry to unseat him and grab his chair.
In last Sunday's World Cup final, France defeated underdogs Croatia 4-2. While France received accolades for its performance, it was Croatia -- a tiny European nation with a population of around 4.5 million -- that won the hearts of millions of soccer fans across the globe for the way it played in the tournament.