A day after Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said that his party is not interested if the National Democratic Alliance has put forward Ram Nath Kovind's name as the presidential candidate to garner Dalit votes, he expressed his support for Kovind. Addresing the media, Thackeray said that while Shiv Sena endorses Kovind, it does not want any kind of politics on it.
— News18 (@CNNnews18) June 20, 2017
"We wish Ramnath ji all the best and expect that the nation prospers in his tenure. We do not want to oppose just for the sake of it. Ram Nath Kovind is a good person. They have suggested a good name. Hope he does a good job," India Today quoted Uddhav as saying.
Earlier, he had said, "If the name of Kovind is being put forward with a view to garner Dalit votes then the Sena is not interested. Sena has never indulged in the politics of hiding behind someone." Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut had also questioned the BJP's decision. "Why was the name not discussed with the allies?" Raut was quoted by NDTV as saying.
Raut had said BJP chief Amit Shah called up Thackeray after the NDA's presidential choice was decided by the BJP's parliamentary board meeting, and sought the party's support for Kovind. Shah, along with Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, visited Thackeray's residence on Sunday and held a close-door meeting with the Shiv Sena chief.
Sena had earlier rooted for the candidature of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and later proposed the name of MS Swaminathan. "Considering that there may be objections to Bhagwat's name, we mooted the name of MS Swaminathan taking note of his service to the cause of farmers," Thackeray had said.
However, Shiv Sena's approval of Kovind's candidature could be a strategic move as Mahesh Vijapurkar argues in this Firstpost article that if the Maratha party refuses to go along with the BJP's choice for the Rashtrapati Bhavan, it risks the plausible mid-term elections to the Maharashtra State Legislature.
"For, not voting for Ram Nath Kovind on any pretext would amount to breaking up the already fraught relationship with the BJP," the article stated.
Sena had earlier said it may choose an "independent" path in the election to the highest constitutional office. It had backed Congress nominees — Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee — in the last two presidential elections.
Updated Date: Jun 20, 2017 20:08 PM