Sena to hold meeting to decide on supporting NDA's Prez nominee

Nitish happy, Mamata opposes choice
Report by: 
Agencies
Mumbai
19 Jun 2017

Keeping up the suspense, NDA ally Shiv Sena today said party chief Uddhav Thackeray will convene a meeting of Sena leaders to decide on supporting the ruling alliance's choice for president.

The Shiv Sena, the second largest constituent of the NDA, has had an uneasy relationship with the BJP ever since the two parties parted ways ahead of the 2014 Assembly polls. Though it later joined the BJP-led ministry in Maharashtra, Sena has continued to needle the lead partner over all vital issues including demonetisation and tension on the borders. "Amit Shah called up Uddhavji after the NDA's Presidential candidate was decided by the BJP's parliamentary board meeting. Shah sought the Sena's support for Ram Nath Kovind," Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut told reporters here. "Uddhavji told him that he will convene a meeting of the party leaders to arrive at a decision and convey our answer to him in one or two days," he said.

Bihar chief minister and JD-U president Nitish Kumar today expressed happiness over state Governor Kovind's candidature, but stopped short of committing support to the NDA nominee. "In my capacity as the Bihar chief minister, it is a matter of happiness that our Governor has been declared as the candidate for the next President of India," he told reporters after paying a courtesy call to Kovind at the Raj Bhawan, hours after the BJP announced his name as the NDA candidate for the presidential election. Paying his gratitude to Kovind for serving Bihar, Nitish said the former has served with distinction during his tenure as the state's Governor.

"I came to pay a courtesy call to the Governor as he is set to leave for the national capital. I am bound to pay my respect to him (Kovind) after declaration of his candidature for the post of the President India," the chief minister said. Virtually expressing her party's reservation about the candidature of Kovind, Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee today claimed that the Bihar Governor was nominated only because he had been a leader of the BJP's Dalit Morcha in the past. "There are other big Dalit leaders in the country. Just because he (Kovind) was a leader of the BJP's Dalit Morcha, they have nominated him," she said in a statement. "The office of President is a key post. Someone of the stature of Pranab Mukherjee or even Sushma Swaraj or (L K) Advaniji may have been made the candidate. "In order to support someone, we must know the person. The candidate should be someone who would be beneficial for the country. The opposition will meet on June 22, only after that can we announce our decision," the West Bengal chief minister added.

The CPM today said the BJP "unilaterally" selected the Bihar Governor as the NDA's Presidential nominee and the Opposition will meet on June 22 to decide their next step ahead of the July 17 polls. CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said that the non-NDA parties will take the decision "keeping in mind the country's history that the ruling and opposition parties contested the polls on all occasion except once". Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was the only President who was elected unopposed. He had served between 1977 and 1982.