Mumbai: After suggesting the name of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat for India's next President, the Shiv Sena is likely to pitch 91-year-old MS Swaminathan, Father of India's Green Revolution, for the post now.
- MS Swaminathan is known as the Father of India's Green Revolution
- Mr Swaminathan will make a "pro-farmer President", Shiv Sena said
- The party says RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat remains their first choice
Two days ahead of his meeting with BJP national chief Amit Shah, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said that Mr Swaminathan will make a "pro-farmer President". However, he reiterated that Mr Bhagwat will remain their first choice.
The meeting is expected to be significant as the Shiv Sena has said it could take an "independent stand" in the presidential election and has also demanded an Uttar Pradesh-like farm loan waiver for Maharashtra.
"As the centre grapples with farmers' rage across Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Haryana, Swaminathan will be a perfect choice," Mr Thackeray said.
While likening Mr Swaminathan to former President APJ Abdul Kalam, Mr Thackeray said, "Swaminathan is a man of repute. India is an agrarian state and he has worked with farmers to find solutions and we want his recommendations to be adopted by the government."
The BJP and its allies, however, are yet to announce their choice for President. Though there is no official confirmation, there is a strong buzz that Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is the front-runner in the race to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Other names that are doing the rounds include Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot, Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu.
The party is expected to name its candidate later this month after a meeting between a BJP core group and Prime Minister Narendra Modi before he departs for Washington on June 25.
The opposition on the other hand indicated that based on who the government picks, it will decide whether it wants to nominate a different candidate.
President Pranab Mukherjee's term ends on July 24. Voting for the next president is scheduled on July 17, while the counting will take place on July 20.