Shiv Sena attacks BJP over Kashmir and West Bengal situation

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A day after chief Uddhav Thackeray took umbrage at the announcement of Ram Nath Kovind as the Presidential nominee, the Shiv Sena after a meeting of senior party leaders made a decision to support his candidature.

Shah arrived here on Friday, a much-anticipated three-day visit to Mumbai, the highlight of which will be a meeting with ally Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday morning. Mr Thackeray said that Sena never played caste-based politics. After Bhagwat ruled himself out for the position, the Sena suggested agricultural scientist 91-year-old MS Swaminathan's name for the post, saying he will be able to provide solutions to the deepening agrarian crisis in several parts of the country. "Now that we have extended support, I don't think there should be any obstacle", Thackeray said, adding he can not endlessly wait for the opposition parties to finalise their candidate for the post. Thackeray had Monday taken umbrage against the BJP's decision of putting up a Dalit face as the Presidential nominee by stating that this was being done to pander to Dalit votes. If that is so, we are not interested in backing him.

The party said the BJP should not try to take political advantage of the situation in Darjeeling owing to political differences with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

The party had been rooting for Mohan Bhagwat - the chief of BJP's ideological mentor Rashtraiya Swayamsevak Sangh - for the President's post.

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Other Sena leaders and BJP state President Raosaheb Patil-Danve stayed out of the 75-minute meeting.

BJP does not, in the arithmetic as has now developed, need Sena's support for the NDA, with Telangana Rashtra Samiti, AIADMK, and the YSR Congress pledging support, has improved its chances. If you have the guts, then go to mid-term poll. Today, it stands at 20 per cent, which is a huge achievement of the Fadnavis government, he said.

"Don't think you will win every time. But instead of working for farmers, some people [read BJP] are showing more interest in mid-term poll", he further said, appealing to Sainiks to keep up the spirit they'd shown in winning the BMC polls. The Shiv Sena also enjoys support in a significant section of Hindu Dalits in Maharashtra. It has already said that his choice was on the strength of his Dalit caste which can only help build vote banks, not nation-building.

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