NDA’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind will visit Mumbai on Saturday 15th July but he is likely to skip Matoshree, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray’s residence. Often BJP leaders arriving in the city visits Matoshree a practice which have been followed since the reign of late Balasaheb Thackeray. However, there is no mention about Matoshree in the scheduled time table of Kovind’s visit. Thus speculations are rife in political circles about Kovind’s Mumbai visit and whether he will visit Matoshree.
Shiv Sena was initially reluctant to support Kovind’s nomination for the presidential election. Most of the political parties had supported Kovind except Sena. Sena had said that by proposing Kovind’s name the NDA is trying to garner Dalit votes which is unacceptable to it. Sena had earlier proposed the names of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and veteran agriculturist M S Swaminathan. Both Bhagwat and Swaminathan did show any interest. Sena also did not send its representative to support Kovind. The saffron party had skipped the filing of nomination papers by Kovind for presidential poll
Later the party changed its decision after BJP president Amit Shah had visited Matoshree to garner support for Kovind’s nomination. Shah took Uddhav into confidence as he finally agreed to support Kovind as presidential candidate.
BJP leader Mohan Bhandari said, “After reaching Mumbai Kovind will head towards Garware Club in Marine Drive. He will meet the senior office bearers of BJP and constituent partners of NDA.”
He nonetheless refused to comment about Kovind’s visit to Matoshree.
Of late, relation between Shiv Sena and BJP had strained after gained a major foothold in the state. Sena is unhappy with the BJP playing big brother after its victory in Lok Sabha and assembly polls.
Sena had ditched the BJP-led NDA during the 2007 and 2012 Presidential poll by backing Pratibha Patil and later Pranab Mukherjee, both UPA nominees for the coveted office. Significantly, Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil, as presidential candidates of the UPA, had visited the then Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray at his residence ‘Matoshree’ in suburban Bandra as the party had broken ranks with the NDA in the past two elections for the highest constitutional office.
The voting for the presidential election is scheduled on July 17 and the counting will take place on July 20, four days before President Pranab Mukherjee’s term ends.