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Uddhav Thackeray rejects Amit Shah's proposal, asks BJP to declare presidential candidate

BJP president Amit Shah today met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray amid tension between the alliance partners over several issues.
India TV Politics Desk Mumbai June 18, 2017 18:40 IST
India TV Politics Desk

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah today met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray amid tension between the alliance partners over several issues. Shah's convoy reached 'Matoshree', the Thackerays' residence, around 10 am on Sunday and the close-door meeting lasted for nearly 75 minutes. 

Uddhav Thackeray reportedly rejected Amit Shah's proposal that Prime Minister Narendra Modi be given the sole authority to pick a presidential candidate. 

He, reportedly, also rejected Shah's proposal that Sena should also support the name which would be decided after talking to all NDA alliance partners. 

Thackeray insisted that first BJP should declare its name for the post of president and only then Sena would make public its stand. Uddhav Thackeray also insisted that Sena was firm on its backing to names of RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat and Agriculture Expert MS Swaminathan.   

The meeting comes a day after the BJP chief, who is here on a three-day visit to strengthen the party organisation in the state, said his party would consult its allies before finalising the NDA's presidential candidate. Shah had landed in Mumbai on Friday and had paid floral tributes to Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray at Shivaji Park. 

The BJP chief's meeting with Thackeray comes amid repeated attack by the Sena on its senior ally and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over a host of issues including the Army's surgical strike, farm loan waiver and amid the talk of a possible snap assembly poll in Maharashtra. 

The meeting also hold significance as the Shiv Sena has warned of taking an "independent stand" on backing a candidate in the presidential election. The Shiv Sena had backed Congress's presidential nominees--Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee-- against official NDA candidates in the last two elections. 

On Friday, Shiv Sena had said it would recommend eminent agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan's name for the highest post if the BJP was not ready for the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's candidature. 

Sena, the BJP's oldest ally, which has been consistently pushing for Bhagwat as the next president, changed its stand after the RSS chief recently expressed his disinclination to become constitutional head of the country. 

Bhagwat, 66, recently said he is not interested in the president's post. 

The Sena had earlier said the nation needs a person who can seal its fate as a 'Hindu Rashtra.'

Senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had said that Uddhav would recommend Swaminathan's name to Shah in the meeting today. 

"..an eminent person like him is fit to hold the President's post. Uddhavji will recommend his name to Amit Shah when he calls on him at 'Matoshree' on Sunday," Raut had said.