Sena to convene meeting to decide on NDA's Prez candidate:Raut

BJP continued its efforts to reach out to various political parties to widen its support base for the presidential election, with the three-member panel of Union ministers talking to the ruling NDA members Shiv Sena and LJP, as well as other parties such as the SP, TMC and BJD, which may back the ruling party candidate.

Key NDA ally Shiv Sena today said that party supremo Uddhav Thackeray will convene a meeting of party leaders to decide on supporting Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind's candidature for the President post.

According to sources, Amit Shah informed Uddhav Thackeray that nearly all allies of NDA have assigned powers to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to finalise the name of candidate for presidential polls.

The Shiv Sena's first preference for the National Democratic Alliance's (NDA's) presidential candidate was Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat.After Bhagwat did not express interest in the post, it pitched agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan as an alternative. BJP's Maharashtra unit chief Raosaheb Dhanve was not part of the deliberations though he accompanied Shah to Matoshree, Thackeray's residence.

In editorials in Saamana, the Marathi organ and Dopharka Saamana, its Hindi tabloid version, Thackeray, who is also the managing editor of both the newspapers, the party indirectly criticised the Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for issuing a threat of mid-term polls and the Shah endorsing it. BJP has remained non-committal to the names though it has said it is open to discussions.

Though the Bharatiya Janata Party chief did not disclose the names of any candidate for the post of President, he sought Thackeray's support for the NDA nominee who would be announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"We wish them all the best... we are not perturbed about winning or losing mid-term elections in Maharashtra..."

"Nobody should think that they can keep on winning elections all the time".

The Sena MP said Thackeray may "answer many questions later this evening" when he will address the party workers on the Shiv Sena's 51st foundation day. BJP ally Shiv Sena, though, has objected to it. But the BJP is expected to contact opposition leaders once again after the name of its Presidential candidate is decided. It has kept BJP guessing about whether it will extend support to the NDA nominee.

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