Shiv Sena to support NDA presidential nominee Draupadi Murmu: Thackeray
A day after Shiv Sena legislators urged their leader Uddhav Thackeray to back the NDA presidential nominee Draupadi Murmu, the party on Tuesday implied it would support her. Sixteen of the Sena's 22 MPs on Monday advised Thackeray to support Murmu "because she is a woman from a tribal community." However, Thackeray's Sena made it clear that supporting Murmu doesn't mean supporting the BJP.
- Since Eknath Shinde divided the party and succeeded Thackeray as Maharashtra's CM with the backing of the BJP, the Sena has already weakened.
- Six of the total 22 Sena MPs are with Shinde, placing them firmly in Murmu's camp.
- Given there is no binding "whip" in the presidential election and 16 of its MPs are supporting Murmu, the Sena is left with little choice.
"The Shiv Sena does what it thinks is right," Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut told The Indian Express. "In the past...we have extended support to Congress nominee TN Seshan and UPA nominees like Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee. The Sena has the tradition of going beyond politics. We believe in backing people in...national interest." "Supporting Draupadi Murmu doesn't mean we are supporting the BJP."
"Draupadi Murmu is the first tribal woman likely to be the President of India. There is a lot of tribal population in Maharashtra. There are a lot of Shiv Sainiks who come from tribal areas. There are MLAs too," Raut further stated, highlighting the merits of supporting Murmu. According to reports, Maharashtra constitutes nearly 10% of the Scheduled Tribe (ST) population in the country.
Murmu, the 64-year-old ex-Jharkhand governor, will be contesting against the joint Opposition candidate, former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, in the July 18 presidential election. If elected—which is nearly done as the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has the support of the required number of MPs and MLAs and several smaller parties' backing—Murmu will be the first tribal woman to become the President of India.
In response to the Sena's possible support for Murmu, BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar stated, "We will welcome it wholeheartedly." Sinha—who had a lengthy stint with the BJP before a breakup a few years ago—is contesting as a "joint opposition candidate," hoping to gain non-NDA parties' support. However, after her candidature was announced, several non-NDA parties opted to support Murmu reportedly citing her tribal identity.