The Shiv Sena which has declared support for the National Democratic Alliance’s presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu did not expect her to visit Uddhav Thackeray’s residence ‘Matoshree’ here, the party said on Thursday.
Murmu arrived in Mumbai on Thursday evening to meet the MPs and MLAs of the BJP as well as MLAs of the rebel Shiv Sena faction led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.
Though Sena chief Thackeray too has declared support for her, she was not slated to meet him. Sena MP Vinayak Raut had said earlier in the day that party MPs and MLAs (from Thackeray’s faction) would not be attending a meeting that Murmu was to address.
Asked about this, MP and Thackeray’s confidante Sanjay Raut said the party’s support of Murmu was not political. “We did not extend our support to her for visiting Matoshree. This is not political support, but it reflects our sentiments towards tribal communities,” he said.
In the past, the Shiv Sena had supported Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee in the 2007 and 2012 presidential elections even though it was part of the BJP-led NDA then, Raut said. Patil and Mukherjee, both Congress leaders, had visited Matoshree, he said, adding that this time the party broke ranks again (with allies Congress and NCP).
As for the first time a tribal woman leader was set to occupy the highest office in the country, many Sena legislators who have tribal roots or work in tribal areas felt that the party should back Murmu, Raut added. The Opposition has fielded Yashwant Sinha against Murmu for the July 18 election.