Published: Thu, June 22, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Shiv Sena plays hardball on Presidential polls

Shah is expected to mollify Thackeray and ensure his support for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate in the upcoming presidential election.

He also dared the BJP to call mid-term polls in Maharashtra and said Fadnavis-led regime would be singed by unrest among farmers.

BJP and allied MPs are being called to Delhi by Tuesday to sign the nomination papers.

If the Sena strikes out on its own in the Presidential elections, this will not be for the first time that it will break ranks with the BJP.

Unless the BJP, in its afterglow of securing a victory for its candidate, turns magnanimous and decides to overlook the Sena decision not to support Kovind's candidature.

The closed-door meeting at Matoshree went on for an hour.

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the BJP had assured that it would inform the Congress about its Presidential candidate in advance for a consensus but now they informed us after taking the decision.

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However, Thackeray reiterated his pet names for the top post - RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and agro-scientist M.S. Swaminathan.

The Shiv Sena had earlier said it may choose an "independent" path in the election to the highest constitutional office. The Sena had supported Congress candidate Pratibhatai Patil (2007) against the BJP candidate Bhaironsingh Shekhawat and Congress candidate Pranab Mukherjee (2012) against BJPs candidate P A Sangma.

Uddhav also expressed his views on the farmer loan waiver, saying that the government should not insist on tough parameters while giving relief to farmers.

On the issue of stone-pelting in Darjeeling and demand for Gorkhaland, the editorial said: "One may have political differences with (West Bengal Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee but nobody should try to take political advantage of the situation there". The Sena, which has often been critical of the BJP and the Modi government, recently suggested the name of M S Swaminathan, the father of India's Green Revolution, for President.

If the Sena weighs in with support for the Opposition candidate, then any rationale for remaining in the NDA at the Centre or in a post-poll partnership with the BJP in Maharashtra just ceases to exist.

He added that the talk of mid-term polls is a ploy to divert attention and dilute the issue of farm loans waiver.

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