A Shiv Sena MP asked Uddhav Thackeray to back Draupadi Murmu
A Shiv Sena MP has asked former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to vote for the National Democratic Alliance candidate in the presidential election, amid a tussle over control of the Shiv Sena after a rebellion by MLAs.
The Sena camp led by new Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who led the rebellion against Mr Thackeray, is likely to support Draupadi Murmu, the National Democratic Alliance, or NDA, candidate for the presidential election. The opposition parties' joint candidate is Yashwant Sinha.
The letter to Mr Thackeray by Sena MP Rahul Shewale indicates more MPs from the party would likely vote along with the rebels for the NDA's presidential election candidate.
Mr Shinde claims he and the rebels represent the Shiv Sena, a party founded by Bal Thackeray, the father of Uddhav Thackeray. The former Chief Minister has, however, criticised the rebels of trying to steal the legacy of his father.
"In view of her (tribal) background and contribution to the social sector, I urge you to declare support to Murmu and accordingly give all Sena MPs the directions to do so," Mr Shewale said in the letter.
He said Bal Thackeray did not back the NDA candidate in the 2007 presidential election and instead supported Congress-led United Progressive Alliance nominee Pratibha Patil, a resident of Maharashtra, for the top constitutional post.
Similarly, the Sena backed UPA presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee in 2012 though it was not a part of the Congress-led alliance, which was in power at the centre, he said.
The Sena has 18 MPs in the Lok Sabha and three in the Rajya Sabha.
Extending supporting to Ms Murmu, Deepak Kesarkar, a spokesperson of rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, said the MLAs and MPs of the state should be united in backing the NDA nominee.
Mr Kesarkar said this is for the first time that a person from a tribal community and that too a woman is set to be elected to the top post, given the numbers in the electoral college in her favour.
The presidential election will be held on July 18.