BJP ally, Shiv Sena has decided to back NDA’s Presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind for the upcoming polls. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray did a U turn on Tuesday evening when he backed Kovind.
“After holding discussions with our party leaders, we have decided to back the NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind. After our support, I do not think it will be difficult for the BJP to get him elected,” Thackeray told reporters in Mumbai.
Just a day earlier, Sena had threatened to come up with a different candidate for the Presidential polls. It had accused the BJP of fielding Kovind to garner Dalit votes.
When asked what made him agree to back Kovind, the Sena chief said, “We have studied his personality and found him to be a very simple and a decent human being. Thus, we decided
to go ahead with his name.”
Thackeray called Kovind “simple and decent human being.”
Sena backing BJP’s candidate this time comes as a surprise as twice earlier it had supported UPA’s nominee in Presidential polls. Sena had supported the UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee in the 2012 presidential polls against the NDA’s P A Sangma. In 2007, it backed Pratibha Patil instead of NDA candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawt.
The virtual climbdown came a day after Thackeray stated that “there are attempts being made to play politics over a Dalit presidential candidate. If that is so, we are not interested in backing him.”
Sena had earlier proposed the names of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and veteran agriculturist M S Swaminathan to BJP chief Amit Shah.
Presidential polls are scheduled to be held on July 17.
(With inputs from PTI)