The Shiv Sena, which has consistently been pushing for RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat as the next president, today said a “Hindutva rubber stamp” should be installed at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Sena, the BJP’s oldest ally, said the nation needs a person who can seal its fate as a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and who can resolve issues like the “Ram mandir” and Article 370. “So far, rubber stamps with secular credentials resided at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Now, to resolve the issues of Ram Mandir, Uniform Civil Code and Article 370 of the Constitution, it is required that a Hindutva rubber stamp assumes the post of president,” an editorial in the Sena mouthpiece Saamana said.
The Sena has repeatedly said that its choice for the the highest office is the RSS chief. Bhagwat, 66, however, has said he is not interested in the president’s post. With the presidential contest, if required, scheduled to be held on July 17, the BJP is hopeful of securing the support of the Sena’s contingent of 18 MPs and 63 MLAs. The BJP’s oldest pro-Hindutva ally has been been playing hardball over the issue so far. It said that according to calculations on paper, 23 constituents of the NDA have 48 per cent vote share for the president’s post among themselves while the UPA, with its 17 constituents, has 26 per cent vote.
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The Sena, which had embarrassed BJP in the last two presidential elections by backing rival candidates, yesterday said it may take an “independent” stand in the upcoming poll. It had in the 2012 presidential poll backed UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee while the BJP supported P A Sangma for the post. In 2007 as well, the Sena ignored NDA’s presidential candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and instead voted for UPA candidate Pratibha Patil, who hailed from Maharashtra. Praising President Pranab Mukherjee, the Sena said people like him and Dr A P J Abdul Kalam have ensured that the honour of the post is maintained. “Though Pranab Mukherjee hails from the Congress lineage, he has been an able and a strong president. His wide experience in various fields has proved immensely beneficial for the country,” said the editorial.