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Shiv Sena non-committal on Presidential nominee

Mumbai: A day after accusing its ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of indulging in vote bank politics, the Shiv Sena on Tuesday made a decision to support BJP’s candidate for the Presidential post. “I have a very old relation with him”, Mulayam was quoted as saying by the ANI. If they (BJP) had a problem with that, we wanted (eminent agriculturist) M S Swaminathan.Responding to a query whether the Shiv Sena would support the opposition parties if they fielded a Dalit candidate, Thackeray said the party’s stand would not change now. On June 19, Thackeray was critical of Kovind, describing his candidacy as caste appeasement.Sena president Uddhav Thackeray declared the party’s decision on Tuesday evening after conferring with senior party leaders.Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah arrived on a much-anticipated three-day visit to the city on Friday, the highlight of which will be a meeting with ally Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray.The bookie added, “I do not know the reason why Shiv Sena did a u-turn within twenty four hours”. The AIADMK, TRS, TDP and BJD have all reportedly said that they would back the NDA candidate. We had suggested Mohanji’s name and he remains our first choice even today.After the Uddhav Thackeray offered his party’s support, the NDA’s Presidential candidate would get 25,000 votes of Shiv Sena. “He has done a lot of good work”, Thackeray said.The Sena, which is seen as the BJP’s natural ally due to the Hindutva agenda had supported incumbent Pratibha Patil over the BJP’s Bhaironsingh Shekhawat in 2007 as she was a Maharashtrian.JD (U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed happiness that the Bihar Governor would be the NDA’s candidate for the President elections.Bhagwat has however clarified that he is not in the Presidential race.The Congress-led UPA has 15 MPs from the state in both the Houses of Parliament.Thackeray said the Sena had recommended and supported Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat’s name because “Hindustan is a Hindu nation” and there was nobody better than Bhagwat to represent this identity.”Uddhavji supported the BJP, but used the opportunity to expose the BJP’s vote bank politics”, said a Shiv Sena MP.