Shiv Sena's 'Warning' To BJP: 'For President's Election, Uddhav Talking To All Parties'

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Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has proposed RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's name for President.


New Delhi:  With less than four months left for elections for a new President of India, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's ally in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena, indicated its support cannot be taken for granted. In an exclusive interview to NDTV, senior Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said that Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is in touch with a range of parties, including the BJP's rivals.

"I am saying anyone who wants support (for their candidates), those people have started working on PR and communication (with Uddhav Thackeray). This is politics. The election of the President is also under politics, it is not neutral anymore," he said.

Mr Raut had sparked off a debate with his surprise pick for the Shiv Sena's choice for President - Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat.

He defended his decision and said that "India is now accepting of Hindutva ideology" and the RSS chief would make a good President.

"If we put forward Bhagwat's name, then entire nation will support us," he claimed.

The lawmaker also alluded to the BJP's recent success in the assembly elections across five states. Mr Raut said that 'Hindu majority thought processes' are gaining popularity and thus, have to be considered as they are 'proving victorious'.

"Whether it is the BJP or the Sena - our thought process is that we work for the idea of a Hindu nation," he said.

"Being secular doesn't mean we cannot talk or think about Hindutva. Even Muslims voted for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh," Mr Raut said, when pressed on whether a likely elevation for Mohan Bhagwat would go against India's secular fabric.

But he said the BJP must reach out to the Sena.

"Uddhavji is the head of the party. He has close to 30,000 votes (in the Electoral College that selects the President)," he said.

The BJP's blazing victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand has stacked the numbers in Electoral College in the favour of the NDA, the ruling alliance which includes the Sena. It is, however, still short of 25,000 votes.

 Mr Raut also defended his party colleague and MP, Ravindra Gaikwad, who sparked a nationwide outrage for beating up an Air India employee.

"Delhi Police has filed an FIR against Ravindra Gaikwad. They will investigate. Who are airline companies to ban him?" he said.

"Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel will/are be brought to India by flight. People from Pakistan travel by flights. Why don't you stop them, but stop Ravinder Gaikwad", said the Sena MP.

"You don't tell us what to do. We know what to do. For 50 years, we have been running the party," Mr Raut said, when asked as to why the party hasn't taken action against him.


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