Mumbai: The big divide in the Shiv Sena may have a spin-off effect on the Presidential polls in terms of voting by the party MPs. The Sena faction led by Uddhav Thackeray was part of the opposition deliberations and supported the candidature of joint opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha. But the rebellion by Eknath Shinde, who is now the Maharashtra Chief Minister, can mean that some MPs of the party might vote for NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu.
There is no whip for Presidential elections and the MPs can vote according to their will.
Yesterday, a Shiv Sena MP has asked Mr Thackeray to vote for the NDA candidate. “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,” Sena MP Rahul Shewale wrote to Mr Thackeray.
The letter also indicated that more MPs from the party are likely to vote along with the rebels.
In an interview with NDTV, Shiv Sena MP and Uddhav Thackeray loyalist Arvind Sawant indicated that they are aware of such a possibility.
Asked which candidate the Shiv Sena will support, Mr Sawant said, “That will be decided by Uddhav Thackeray and according to his advice, we will vote. There is no question about it.”
But questioned if there was a difference of opinion in Parliament between Sena MPs on this issue, he said the party is “still together when it comes to Parliament”, even though there are several MPs who are part of the rebel camp and are likely to vote for the NDA candidate.
Then, in view of the larger question of the possibility of a split in the party in Parliament, he added: “We are the Shiv Sena party. We have 19 MPs. Those who want to leave can resign and leave. And if they want to form like this conspiracy, like the conspiracy that took place in the Assembly, that should be two-thirds – that should not be less than 12 MPs. Are there 13 MPs with them?”
A shift in a few Sena votes may not greatly influence the outcome of the polls, in which the government appears to have a numerical advantage.
Already several non-NDA parties – including Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal — have expressed support for Ms Murmu, a former Governor of Jharkhand and a tribal from Odisha. Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United is also supporting Ms Murmu.
Lashing out at the rebels, Mr Sawant said: “This is a sheer mockery of democracy. And that’s what I am saying, the learned people of this country – who stood for the Nupur case, should stand for this also. It is not a question of Maharashtra, it is not a question of Shiv Sena. This should not be a precedent that anybody can violate the constitution.”
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