The Shiv Sena on Monday called the Bharatiya Janata Party its “principal enemy” and said it was part of the Maharashtra government “just for the sake of it”, PTI reported. Party leader and MP Sanjay Raut also praised Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi as a leader who “people like to listen to” now.

“Instead of hitting out at the Congress and NCP [Nationalist Congress Party], the BJP targets the Sena,” Raut said. “They are, thus, our principal enemy.”

Raut was speaking on the occasion of the Maharashtra government’s third anniversary.

On Rahul Gandhi, he said: “A leader is one who is accepted by the people. There has been a substantial change in Rahul Gandhi since 2014. People like to listen to him now.”

The MP also said that the Shiv Sena was ready to contest the Lok Sabha elections and Maharashtra Assembly polls in 2019 with or without the BJP.

Last week, Raut had said in a television discussion that Gandhi was capable of leading the country, and that the Narendra Modi wave had faded. He said the Congress had found a leader in Rahul Gandhi, three years after he was mocked as “Pappu”.