Sena leader Sanjay Raut said he will meet Mukherjee next week, insisting he has proved to be “best President” and that nobody can doubt his capabilities.
“In the last five years, he has shown that he is a capable and a non-controversial President, who is well-versed in national and international affairs,” Raut, Shiv Sena’s leader in the Rajya sabha, said.
“We will let you know. We don’t know what Shiv Sena has said. The party high command has to take a call on this,” Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza said when asked whether her party will back Mukherjee, a former Congressman, for a second term.
Asked whether the Shiv Sena, which is a key constituent of the BJP-led NDA and the oldest ideological ally of the saffron party, would appeal to other parties for backing Mukherjee for a second term, Raut said, it is a decision which only party chief Uddhav Thackeray can take.
“Uddhav Thackeray too has a lot of respect and affection for Pranab Mukherjee,” he said.
Raut, who is the executive editor of Shiv Sena’s mouthpeice Saamna, said, “Just like his party appreciated the surgical strikes by the armed forces and congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi, similarly, we are appreciating the good work of the President.”
The comments from Raut, Shiv Sena’s most visible public face, come at a time when the party’s ties with BJP, with which it shares power both in Maharashtra and at the Centre, are under strain.
During run-up to the Presidential polls, Mukherjee had visited Matoshree, the residence of the Thackerays, to garner support for his candidature. The Sena, under Bal Thackeray’s leadership, had broken ranks with BJP to support Mukherjee’s presidential candidature in 2012.
Mukherjee’s current term ends on July 25 next year and, according to reports, the Rashtrapati Bhawan has approached the government to find a suitable accomodation for him in Lutyen’s bungalow zone.
Barring the first President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad, none of his successors has had a second term in Rashtrapati Bhawan.