Will back NDA’s president pick, but reveal name first, Shiv Sena tells BJP
Mumbai city news: According to sources from the two parties, Shah requested Thackeray to have faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s choicemumbai Updated: Jun 27, 2017 12:37 IST
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray told Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah were caught in a deadlock on Sunday over the presidential poll .While the Sena chief said his party is willing to support the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) candidate, he would want to know the name before offering his support. Shah met Thackeray on the last day of his three-day visit to the city at the latter’s residence, Matoshree in Bandra (East).
The BJP president, however, did not reveal the name and simply sought the Sena’s support.
According to sources from the two parties, Shah requested Thackeray to have faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s choice. Thackeray, however, insisted on knowing the name.Besides Thackeray and Shah, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, BJP Maharashtra chief Raosaheb Danve and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray also attended the meeting, which went on for an hour-and-a-half.
A senior Sena leader said, “Our party chief said the Sena wants to support the NDA candidate. We have faith in the prime minister, but as an NDA constituent we have the right to know the potential candidates. Only then we can comment.”
BJP sources, however, said the talks were very positive with the two parties agreeing to resolve all differences, and the Sena willing to support the NDA in the presidential election.
“The Sena has agreed to support the NDA candidate. Shah told the Sena chief that we haven’t had our party meeting. We will finalise the candidate then. While finalising the candidate all NDA constituents will be taken into consideration. On that, Thackeray said we should decide our candidate and let the Sena know, only then will he extend support,” a senior BJP leader said.
In Sunday’s meeting, Thackeray also reiterated the Sena’s preferences for the president’s post. The Sena has been pitching the name of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat for the post, saying a president can like him can guide India in the direction of a Hindu nation, help resolve the Ram Mandir issue in Ayodhya and enforce a uniform civic code. If the BJP has any opposition to nominating the head of its ideological outfit as president, the Sena wants it to consider 91-year-old agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan, also known as the Indian father of the Green Revolution, saying he can help the government find solutions to the deep agrarian crises that has gripped several parts of the country. Bhagwat, meanwhile, has ruled himself out.
Earlier in a press conference in Mumbai on Saturday evening, Shah had said the BJP was unfairly getting flak over next month’s presidential polls even when the party is trying to build an all-party consensus by taking into account everyone’s suggestions rather than declaring a candidate right at the outset.
For the past two presidential elections, the Sena has broken away with the NDA and backed Congress nominees Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee.
Voting for the presidential election is scheduled on July 17, while the counting will take place on July 20, four days before Mukherjee’s term ends.
With 18 MPs and 63 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), the Sena has 25,893 votes with the party for the election, as the electoral college for the presidential election includes 708 points for every MP and 175 for every legislator from Maharashtra.
Relations between the BJP and the Sena have been increasingly choppy of late. Despite being part of the BJP-led Maharashtra government, the Sena supported the recent farmers stir against the state government, bitterly criticising the BJP, taking to the streets in protests, and even issuing veiled threats of withdrawing support to the government.
BJP sources said Shah and Thackeray also discussed issues causing the recent bitterness between the BJP and the Sena in within the Maharashtra government. “Both leaders agreed that the parties will end their differences and work together within the government going forward,” a senior BJP leader said.