CM Devendra Fadnavis, Raosaheb Danve, and Ashish Shelar welcome BJP national president Amit Shah to Mumbai
Even as BJP president Amit Shah gets a sense of its Maharashtra unit's preparedness for a mid-term poll, and how far the state government has gone in delivering to the people, ally Shiv Sena has stepped up to embarrass the party.
On Shah's arrival in the city on Friday, Sena president Uddhav Thackeray suggested that BJP should ask noted scientist MS Swaminathan to contest the presidential poll, if RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's candidature is opposed. Interestingly, Shah will seek Sena's support to the BJP (read NDA), to send its candidate to Rashtrapati Bhavan. The two leaders will meet on Sunday.
According to Uddhav, Swaminathan is the best bet, because of his extensive work for farmers and the Indian agriculture sector.
First preference Bhagwat
"Bhagwat continues to be our first preference, but if some people oppose him, then Swaminathan should be made the next president," Uddhav told media persons. Interestingly, Bhagwat spent more than six hours in Rashtrapati Bhavan on Friday as President Pranab Mukherjee's guest.
"Some people say that a loan waiver isn't a permanent solution to the agrarian crisis, and farmers suicides will not stop. In that case, Swaminathan knows how to deal with this crisis. He should be made president," Uddhav said.
When asked if he would discuss it with Shah, Uddhav said he was even ready to consider any other more suitable candidate. "I'm for an unopposed presidential election," he said.
The Sena's 25,000 votes are crucial to contestants in the race for the Rashtrapati Bhavan. However, the Sena has been behaving oddly when it comes to the presidential poll. In the past two elections, it voted against BJP candidates despite being a constituent of the NDA.
For a scientist
This time, the Sena started playing around the BJP, teasing it over presidential candidates. It first suggested Bhagwat's name knowing that the RSS doesn't allow such moves. And now it is trying to create a buzz over Swaminathan who has worked in an official capacity in the Congress governments. The scientist is known as the man behind the country's green revolution, and has prepared a report which gives a formula for offering farmers a price for their produce based on production cost. His recommendations were ignored by the UPA, but now they are being discussed yet again in view of farmers' agitation which resulted in a loan waiver from the state government early this week.
The Sena is constantly projecting itself as the saviour of farmers, while BJP is trying to woo all parties to decide a candidate unanimously.