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Pranab Mukherjee could be consensus PM candidate if BJP lacks majority in 2019: Shiv Sena

In an editorial in the party’s mouthpiece Saamana, the Shiv Sena said the RSS’ agenda in inviting former president and Congress veteran leader Pranab Mukherjee to an event at its headquarters would be revealed during the coming next year’s general election.

india Updated: Jun 09, 2018 14:59 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Pranab Mukherjee,Modi,BJP
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat speaks with former president Pranab Mukherjee during an event at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur, on June 7, 2018. (Reuters )

Former president Pranab Mukherjee could be the consensus candidate for the Prime Minister’s post if the BJP fails to garner a majority in the 2019 general elections, the Shiv Sena said on Saturday.

It also hit out at the RSS, the ideological mentor of BJP, for having never invited former Sena chief, late Bal Thackeray on its forum, and trying to appease Muslims by holding iftar parties.

The comments in the editorial of the party’s mouthpiece Saamana, comes at a time when all is not well between BJP and Sena, two days after Mukherjee attended an event of RSS in Nagpur on Thursday.

Mukerjee’s visit to the RSS headquarters had evoked sharp responses, with several leaders of his party, including his daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee, criticising his decision.

Slamming Congress for making a fool of itself in trying to stop Mukherjee’s visit, which, it said, “appeared to be a noiseless firecracker”, the Sena wondered why the RSS chose to invite the veteran leader, who holds Nehruvian ideologies close to his heart.

The RSS think tank strategically uses such visits (like one by Mukherjee) for future politics. What is on their mind with this particular event will be revealed only during 2019-LS elections, the editorial stated.

“But the political corridor in Delhi is abuzz with the possibility of Mukherjee being a consensus candidate for the PM’s post after elections. If BJP failed to garner majority in the Lok Sabha, Mukherjee could be a consensus candidate,” it said.

On RSS holding iftar parties, the Sena said it was a sign of changed stance of the Sangh.

“In the past, the RSS would criticise Congress for organising such parties and boast that such appeasement has no place in Hinduism. The organisation itself is now taking active initiative in such appeasements and the (iftar) parties are organised at government guest houses. It’s a sign of the changed stance of the organisation,” the editorial said.

It also noted that RSS, which has a tradition of inviting eminent personalities on its forum, may not have invited Bal Thackeray as it could not have stood by his “intense Hindutva”.

“Balasaheb’s agenda of Hindutva has never been taciturn. Like Veer Savarkar, he too believed in expansive Hinduism. This would be the reason why RSS preferred to maintain a distance from him,” the editorial said.

The strong remarks point toward deteriorating ties between the Sena and the BJP despite a meeting between its chiefs Uddhav Thackeray and Amit Shah earlier this week.

Shah is learnt to have offered a favourable agreement for the state polls if the Sena goes with the BJP for the Lok Sabha polls, and more meetings with senior leaders of both parties to sort out grievances and discuss the alliance. But Thackeray has signalled that his party is likely to go alone in the LS polls.

First Published: Jun 09, 2018 14:52 IST