Shiv Sena attacks BJP over J&K, Bengal situation

During his address, Thackeray took potshots at Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over his remarks that some political parties were behind the recent agitation by farmers.

In a virtual U-turn, Shiv Sena, a key constituent of the BJP-led coalition, today extended its support for the NDA's presidential choice Ram Nath Kovind, saying he is a "simple and decent human being".

The Shiv Sena has consistently maintained that the RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat should be announced as the official nominee of the NDA for the presidential election. The meeting is expected to take place on Sunday at the Thackeray residence, "Matoshri" in Bandra east. Shah will visit Mumbai on a three-day trip to celebrate the party's three years in power at the Centre under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, if it is not acceptable to BJP, then in that case Dr MS Swaminathan's name be announced as NDA nominee, " said Shiv Sena MP and spokesman Sanjay Raut.

The Sena statements came barely 48 hours before a Shah-Thackeray "summit" scheduled for Sunday morning to solicit and secure its support for an NDA candidate for the Rashtrapati Bhavan. "Our greatest worry is whether Jammu and Kashmir will remain on the map of India in the long run", the edit said.

The Sena's attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came barely 24 hours after Shah and Thackeray met in Mumbai for 75 minutes amid optimism of a thaw in the chilled relations between the two allies of almost three decades.

The Sena would make its stand clear on Tuesday, Thackeray said, addressing Shiv Sena cadre on the party's 51st anniversary.

On record, both parties kept mum on the deliberations at the Shah-Thackeray meet though the BJP termed it as "a courtesy call where talks were held in a cordial atmosphere". The agenda is Presidential elections - a replacement for President Pranab Mukherjee has to be found before mid-July.

Naidu also held discussions with Samajwadi Party's Ram Gopal Yadav and Naresh Agrawal.

Raote said that he met Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil in this regard and will also meet chief minister Fadnavis.

The Mumbai visit is part of the country-wide tour programme undertaken by Shah from April to September, party sources said.

  • Leroy Wright