Shah meets Uddhav, seeks support for NDA’s choice

| | Mumbai

In an effort to seek the support the ally’s support for the NDA’s presidential poll nominee, BJP national president Amit Shah met Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray and spent ninety minutes with the latter discussing matters relating the forthcoming poll.

Informed sources said that at the meeting, Shah did not disclose the name of ruling BJP’s proposed presidential poll candidate but sought the Sena’s support to the NDA’s nominee to be announced before Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves for the United States on June 24. 

While Shah was accompanied by Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, Uddhav’s son and Sena’s young wing president Aditya Thackeray was present at the meeting.

Though no formal announcement was announcement was made by either side after the meeting, sources said that the meeting between Shah and Uddhav helped ease brewing tension between the two saffron alliance partners, whose relations have come under considerable strain in the recent past over the issue of farm loan waiver.

It was no surprise that Maharashtra BJP president Raosaheb Danve, who had arrived at the Thackerays’ Bandra residence “Matoshri” along with Shah and Fadnavis, was kept out of the meeting. The reason behind Shah advising Danve to stay out of the meeting that the Sena leadership had not taken kindly to the “anti-farmer” remarks made by the State BJP chief recently.

At the meeting, Uddhav is understood to have told Shah that the Sena wanted the BJP to announce its choice of candidate (s) for the presidential poll, before it could spell out its stand.

Though Uddhav made a brief mention of the names of RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat and renowned Agriculture Scientist M S Swaminathan whom the Sena has publicly proposed as its first two choices for the presidential poll nomination, there was no discussion on the two names at the meeting.

On his part, Shah told Uddhav that an effort was being made by the BJP to evolve a consensus over the choice of presidential poll candidate and assured Uddhav that all the names, including the ones proposed by the Sena, would be considered before making a decision.

He urged Uddhav to extend the Sena’s support to the presidential poll nominee to be announced by the Prime Minister.  However, the Sena president reportedly refrained from handing out any blanket assurance to the BJP president.

It remains to be seen if the Shiv Sena – given its mercurial temperament –would support the presidential poll candidate nominated by the ruling BJP.

The Sena’s conduct vis-a-vis the presidential polls should be seen in the context of the fact that in as many as four presidential elections in the past, including the ones held in 2007 and 2012, the Shiv Sena had gone against the BJP’s choice.

In 2007, the Sena had whole-heartedly supported the UPA’s presidential poll candidate Prathibha Patil on the ground that she was a “Maharashtrian” and that the issue involved the State’s “pride”. In 2012, the Sena had thrown its weight behind UPA’s candidate Pranab Mukherjee on the ground that the latter had personally called late party chief Bal Thackeray and sought the party’s support.

In the two earlier Presidential polls –in 1997 and 1992, the Shiv Sena had supported the candidatures of T N Seshan and Ram Jethmalani respectively. On both these occasions, the candidates supported by the Sena had lost badly in the polls.

Meanwhile, Shah – whose three-day visit to Mumbai ended on Sunday -- met RPI (A) President and Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerent Ramdas Athavale, founder-president of Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and State minister for animal husbandry, dairy development and fisheries Mahadev Jankar, Vinayak Mete of Shiv Sangram, who is the chairman of the committee that is overseeing the Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial project and Jansurajya Party President Vinay Kore.



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