Name NDA's candidate first: Uddhav to Shah

Uddhav will have to back Kovind for the presidential polls as the Sena is NDA's ally and shares power with the BJP in the state and at the Centre, said observers. And though the BJP does not have a clear majority in the Assembly and relies on the Shiv Sena, the BJP's electoral performance at various elections in the state have grown from strength to strength, adding to the already simmering tensions within.

Sena leaders said that with Shah's visit to Matoshree, Uddhav was likely to support an NDA candidate, provided the Sena is kept in the loop about the nomination.

At the meeting, Shah did not disclose a name, and Sena insisted the BJP first shares names of potential candidates. Reportedly, Shiv Sena President Thackeray has stuck to his party's aggressive stance on the issue of the Presidential polls. Even as the Shah-Thackeray "summit" was announced on Thursday, the Shiv Sena fired missiles at neighboring Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who is struggling with a farmers' agitation. "We do not go there to play and they don't come here and play", Shah, who is also Chairman of Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA), told media persons during a press conference here.

The Shiv Sena, the BJP's oldest ally, had earlier said it may choose an "independent" path in the election to the highest constitutional office.

On the issue of recent loan waiver announced by the government, the BJP president remarked that the financial burden of the loan waiver will be on the government and not on the banks.


"If they have declared Kovind's name for getting Dalit votes, then we are not interested".

In fact, on at least two previous occasions, the Sena had jolted the NDA by supporting Congress nominees - former President Pratibha Patil in 2009 and later current President Pranab Mukherjee in 2012. One was of (RSS chief) Mohan Bhagwat.

"The burden of loan waiver will be on the Government and not banks", he had said.

Lauding Modi for enacting the Goods and Services Tax (GST) law, the BJP leader said nobody else had the "daring or capability" to do it. "It was a very positive meeting and sent a signal that the Sena is very much part of the NDA despite its frequent outbursts", a BJP functionary said.


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