President polls: Shiv Sena may 'back' NDA's Murmu, 'betray' Sinha
Mumbai, July 12 (IANS) As the countdown for the upcoming Presidential elections starts, the Shiv Sena has dropped broad hints that it may support NDA's candidate Draupadi Murmu and not the non-BJP Opposition's nominee, Yashwant Sinha, here on Tuesday.
Shiv Sena MP and Chief Spokesperson Sanjay Raut indicated this while interacting with the media, saying party President Uddhav Thackeray will announce his decision in a day or so.
"Backing Murmu does not mean supporting the Bharatiya Janata Party. The decision will be taken keeping in view the public sentiments," Raut made it clear, amid a clamour from its former saffron ally to toe its (BJP) line.
The Sena said Monday (July 11), Thackeray had discussed the Presidential polls issue and other matters in detail at a meeting of most Sena MPs from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha besides some other top leaders.
"In the past even Balasaheb Thackeray used to hold such consultations with party leaders on major issues and the decisions were made on the basis of the view of the colleagues. At yesterday's meeting, the candidature of Murmu was also discussed," said Raut.
While emphasising that supporting Murmu doesn't imply backing the BJP, he said the Sena has all the goodwill for Sinha.
"Such decisions are based on peoples' sentiments and even in the past we had supported the candidature of Pratibha Patil (2007), Pranab Mukherjee (2012) when we were with the NDA," Raut pointed out, suggesting a repeat of its stance in 2022.
He also rubbished speculation in a section of the media that the Sena is on the verge of a split with even MPs preparing to revolt and join the group led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.
"A majority of our MPs were present at yesterday's meeting barring Shinde's son, Dr. Shrikant Shinde and Bhavana Gawali. The party does not take any decisions under pressure and whatever is finally decided, would be binding on all MPs and MLAs," Raut said.
Nationalist Congress Party and Congress, the other Maha Vikas Aghadi -- of which the Sena is a part -- have not yet reacted to the developments.
Meanwhile, both Murmu and Sinha are expected to be in Mumbai this week to campaign for the President elections and are likely to meet the top leaders of all political parties.