After a vertical split within the party led to the collapse of the MVA government in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray's Parliament unity will be tested when MPs vote to elect the next President of India on July 18.
Sources said that faced with a revolt within the party, Uddhav is exploring options to avoid further embarrassment. Sources told India TV that Uddhav could announce to support NDA's Droupadi Murmu for the upcoming presidential elections.
Sources said that as many as 16 Sena MPs have demanded from Uddhav to declare that party lawmakers will vote for Murmu and not Opposition's Yashwant Singh -- a BJP rebel.
Murmu to visit Maharashtra on July 14
Droupadi Murmu is scheduled to visit Maharashtra on July 14 as part of her campaign. She will be meeting the BJP MLAs and Sena MLAs who are part of the Sena faction led by Eknath Shinde. Sources said that a section of MPs and MLAs who are with Uddhav could join the rebels when they meet Murmu on July 14. To avoid further humiliation, Uddhav could announce backing Murmu at the meeting with party MPs today.
Last week, rebel Sena MLAs and spokesperson of the Shinde faction Deepak Kesakar made an appeal to all the parties including the Sena faction led by Uddhav to support Murmu.
It is worth mentioning that the Sena faction led by Uddhav was part of the opposition deliberations to pick Yashwant Sinha as a joint presidential candidate.
The cracks in the party just ahead of the polls have now left Uddhav baffled who resigned as the Chief Minister on June 30.
On Friday, Rajendra Gavit, the party MP Palghar Lok Sabha seat, asked Uddhav to support the candidature of Murmu. Gavit reminded Uddhav that in the 2007 and 2012 elections, Sena founder Bal Thackeray had broken ranks with the BJP-led NDA and supported the candidatures of Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee (both Congress leaders).
Gavit belongs to a tribal community and is the second Sena MP to suggest that the party back Murmu. The Sena faction led by Eknath Shinde, now the Chief Minister, has decided to support Murmu.
Uddhav ditched the BJP in 2019 after the Assembly election results and formed the government with the support of ideological rival parties NCP and Congress.