Amit Shah meets Uddhav Thackeray amid tension between alliance partners

On Monday, Uddhav, while speaking at the party's foundation day convention had slammed Kovind's nomination as that meant to appease Dalit voters.

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

"Amit Shah and his party's eyes are on mid-term polls in Maharashtra".

A Shiv Sena leader who requested anonymity, however, conceded that the party had no option but "to support Kovind". We are hopeful of receiving Shiv Sena's support.

"If anybody had reservations about Bhagwat, then we suggested Swaminathan for the benefit of the farmers of the country". We have never hidden this fact. "Uddhavji will recommend his name to Amit Shah when he calls on him at "Matoshree" (Thackeray's residence) on Sunday", Raut had said.

This decision comes a day after Thackeray accused the BJP of playing Dalit vote-bank politics and of fielding Kovind merely to capture Dalit votes. "But if someone works for the welfare of the country, we will support him", said Uddhav, denying his party's stance was a volte-face.

Though the Bharatiya Janata Party chief did not disclose the names of any candidate for the post of President, he sought Thackeray's support for the NDA nominee who would be announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Sena crosses swords with the BJP routinely over a range of issues.

Sena had earlier rooted for the candidature of Bhagwat on Hindutva line and later proposed the name of Swaminathan for the top post.

On two previous occasions, the Shiv Sena has parted the with National Democratic Alliance and supported United Progressive Alliance candidates: in 2007 when Pratibha Patil won the election and in 2012 when incumbent Pranab Mukherjee was elected. However, in spite of the bonhomie that was on display Sunday, the Sena remains miffed about the cold shoulder that it has been receiving by the BJP leadership in Maharashtra as well as the Centre. In 1997, it fielded former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) T.N Sheshan against K.R Narayanan. "The burden of loan waiver will be on the government and not banks". Senior Congress leaders could meet under the chairmanship of Sonia Gandhi if BJP announces its candidature today.

  • Zachary Reyes