It is the troubled relationship between the Sena and the BJP which the Congress led Opposition wants to exploit.
New Delhi: Ruling NDA ally Shiv Sena seems to have emerged as one of the game changers as far as the July Presidential elections are considered, with both the ruling dispensation and the Opposition mulling over the names of Maharashtrian stalwarts — Uttar Pradesh governor Ram Naik and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar respectively as potential candidates, to garner its support.
It is the troubled relationship between the Sena and the BJP which the Congress led Opposition wants to exploit. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had earlier said his party would support RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat for the post. Incidentally, all three — Naik, Pawar and Bhagwat — are Maharashtrian. Mr Naik has a long association with the RSS and was a Cabinet minister in the AB Vajpayee government.
The Opposition, which includes the entire socialist block and the Left parties, considers the Presidential elections as an “acid test” for the formation of a broad-based anti-Modi coalition. The ruling NDA is marginally short of the half way mark to ensure its candidate at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Both sides are actively wooing Shiv Sena. The Congress is also opening channel with former NDA ally BJD. As far as BJD is considered, they are looking at Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar to walk the rope.
A senior Congress leader said that Congress president Sonia Gandhi has asked for parleys to be begun with the Shiv Sena.
If the NDA wants to wants its candidate to win the Prez polls, it needs the support of fence sitters like AIAIDMK and BJD. The AIADMK is currently facing an internal crisis for which many are blaming the BJP but the Opposition is trying hard to rope in the BJD, which recently suffered electoral losses in the local bodies polls.
Though Mr Thackeray had backed Mr Bhagwat for the post, he had also indicated that his party could back Mr Pawar. Mr Bhagwat had rejected reports of his name being considered for the post as “entertainment news.”
Interestingly, in the last two Presidential elections, Sena had jumped the fence and voted against ally BJP which was not in favour of Ms Pratbha Patil and Mr Pranab Mukherjee.
The Shiv Sena’s total vote pool of 25,893 could prove to be crucial for the BJP in the upcoming Presidential polls.
The presidential election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote. One of the key components of the Opposition camp, the CPI(M) has estimated that the ruling alliance will fall short of a two per cent margin if key ally Sena supports the Opposition’s candidate for the Presidential polls.