Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is likely to give consent to a name that the BJP recommends for the post of the President at the meeting with BJP chief Amit Shah to be held at Matoshree on Sunday. A source in the Shiv Sena said: “The primary objective of the Shah and Thackeray meeting is related to the presidential poll. It would be followed by discussions on other issues, including the farm loan waiver.”
A Sena functionary said: “The Shiv Sena will not stretch the presidential candidate issue beyond a point and give its nod to the BJP. Whether it is Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan or Union Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj or any other candidate, we have no problems.” The Sena believes that there should be a consensus among all political parties on the matter.
On Thackeray suggesting the name of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan, a Sena official said: “We know BJP is not going to consider any of the names.”
A party insider said: “The idea of pressing for Bhagwat’s name was to keep the Hindutva agenda in mind. The BJP has a majority at the Centre. So, why not a presidential candidate from the RSS, which is the ideological parent body of the BJP.” Since the RSS chief himself had dismissed Sena’s suggestion, Thackeray floated Swaminathan’s name, associating it with the farmers’ cause. The flip flop evoked reactions from various quarters.
A BJP core committee leader, requesting anonymity, said: “Shah’s meeting with Thackeray was to create goodwill. It was also aimed at sending a message that all alliance partners were supporting BJP’s presidential candidate.”
While the Shah-Thackeray meet is largely unstructured, a source said: “They could discuss any subject.” An insider said: “Notwithstanding the differences between the Sena and the BJP, the relationship between Thackeray and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is cordial.” The Sena, however, is still working on what course it should pursue on the farmers’ issue. Local leaders are planning to get details from more than 10-15 lakh that would be submitted to Fadnavis. The party appears to be taking credit, along with the BJP, for the loan waiver announcement.