Mohan Bhagwat for President: Shiv Sena picks RSS chief for top job, in bid to bargain for key ministries

Once again, the Shiv Sena has thrown a googly in the Presidential election poll highlighting the name of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat as a candidate for the President of India post. The party said that since India is known as a Hindu country Bhagwat is the best choice for the president's post. The Presidential election which is scheduled to be held in July this year.

Interestingly, senior BJP leader and former deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj are being talked about as the BJP's President of India candidates. There is word is that Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar is also in the race. Sena, however, seems to be more inclined towards Bhagwat.

"Mohan Bhagwat is a good name for the president post. He is the real face of RSS. After Hedgewar and Golwalkar, Bhagwat is doing hard work towards forming a united Hindu country," Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said on Monday. Raut, however, added that Uddhav Thackeray will take a final decision on the party's choice for the post.

 Mohan Bhagwat for President: Shiv Sena picks RSS chief for top job, in bid to bargain for key ministries

Uddhav Thackeray and Mohan Bhagwat

Earlier, Shiv Sena had supported Advani for the president's post. Considering that Advani shares a very good rapport with Sena party chief Uddhav Thackeray, the party is likely to have dragged Mohan Bhagwat's name in the race as its last chance to bargain with BJP. It will be interesting to see how Prime Minister Narendra Modi reacts to this change.

President Pranab Mukherjee's tenure ends in July 2017 and the next president will take over charge from July onwards. Shiv Sena has 21 MPs (18 from Lok Sabha and three from Rajya Sabha) and 63 MLA’s from the state of Maharashtra, all of which takes the total value of votes at 25,893. This makes Shiv Sena vote important in the election of the next president.
(The value of an MP vote is weighted at 708 whereas that of an MLA's vote is weighted at 175).

In the last two Presidential elections, Shiv Sena voted for a Congress candidate. Former president Pratibha Patil and President Pranab Mukherjee won the presidential election after Shiv Sena support. Though Pratibha Patil avoided visiting Matoshree, Pranab Mukherjee had visited Matoshree and meet Sena Chief Bal Thackeray. So, this is the third time that the Sena is talking against the BJP in the presidential election.

Due to the importance of Sena votes valued a 25,893, the BJP central leadership is now planning for compromise and is likely to rope in Prime Minister Narendra Modi for dinner diplomacy next week with NDA members.

The BJP is making yet another bid to improve its ties with its uneasy ally Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.

BJP sources confirmed that Modi is likely to send an invitation to Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray for dinner in Delhi for a one-on-one meeting so that the misunderstanding between the two parties is over. "This is for the first time that a direct and personal invite has gone out to Thackeray for an NDA get-together," confirmed a Sena MP who did not wish to be named. However, Raut denied of any such invitation. "We haven’t received any invitation from the PM. It is a rumour in the media fraternity only. If they (BJP) want to discuss Sena stand in the Presidential election, then it will be discussed at Matoshree only," Raut said while talking with IBN Lokmat.

Raut also added that the Matoshree cooks tasty food, so it's unlikely that Uddhav will attend a dinner party, which he hasn't been invited.

The BJP's gains in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Assembly polls where they won more than 65,000 votes value has improved its chances, but the party is still short of 20,000 votes for President election. The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has 20,000 votes but the AIADMK is angry on governor C Vidyasagar Rao for delaying the oath-taking ceremony of its chief minister candidate Sasikala. All of which gives Shiv Sena a chance to bargain with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Both parties relations have deteriorated after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation poll in February this year. There is also pressure from MLAs from both the parties to break up post alliance with each other. So, this is the last chance for Sena to get one cabinet and one MoS minister in the Centre and an important portfolio in Marahashtra too.

BJP MLAs have often stressed in party meetings that the party should rethink its ties with Sena. So, the next three months are crucial for the Sena and BJP alliance in Centre as well in Maharashtra.

An interesting thing is that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee recently said that Senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani and Sushma Swaraj also good choice for President post.

Updated Date: Mar 27, 2017 18:36:04 IST