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President can’t be named for electoral gains, Sena tells BJP

19 June, 2017 6:42 PM
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Says the party’s position will be announced in a day or two

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Monday came down heavily on the Bharatiya Janata Party's candidate for President, saying, "If a Dalit person's name is being proposed (for President) with the sole intention of ensuring electoral success all over the country, then the Shiv Sena will take a decision accordingly on supporting the candidate. Our party's position will be announced in a day or two."

The BJP on Monday had named Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as the National Democratic Alliance's (NDA) candidate for the highest office of the land. "We will support any presidential candidate the NDA proposes, as long as it is done with India's development in mind."

Mr. Thackeray was speaking at his party's 51st foundation day function in the city. While speaking to party members, he reacted sharply to BJP's unofficial suggestion of holding mid-term polls in the state, saying, "Don't test our patience. If you have the courage, then call for elections. Every Shiv Sainik will step into the contest. Don't challenge us. If you stab us in the back, we will turn around and attack you on the chest."

Mr. Thackeray said his party will not support vote-bank politics and cited how the Sena had proposed agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan for President. It had also proposed RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat for the post. "We proposed Bhagwat's and Swaminathan's names despite having no ties with them only because they have contributed towards nation-building." Party members said after the function, that, Mr. Thackeray's body language was aggressive during this speech.

In his address to party faithfuls, Mr. Thackeray took exception to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis' allegation that "a political hand" was behind the recent farmer agitations in the state. He said his party not only backs farmers' interests "with a hand, but also with its entire body."

He added: "The State legislative assembly will meet on July 26, 2017. The government must take a firm decision on the (farmers' loan waiver) issue once and for all, and ensure they are made self-sufficient."

The Shiv Sena chief also said, "Thanks to the way this government handles various issues, it is sometimes difficult to figure whether we are in government (as an alliance partner to BJP) or in the opposition. For instance, the State government is only writing letters to the Karnataka government on the issue of Marathi-speaking population. No one is speaking up for our Marathi-speaking brethren in Karnataka."

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