Uddhav Thackeray says Sena won’t support Ram Nath Kovind if BJP is playing Dalit votebank politics

Mumbai: Virtually accusing the BJP of playing Dalit vote bank politics, the Shiv Sena on Monday said if the ally had put forth Ram Nath Kovind's name merely to capture the community's votes, it would not support him.

"If they have declared Kovind's name for getting Dalit votes, then we are not interested. The Shiv Sena has always kept away from such vote-bank politics," said Uddhav Thackeray at a rally to mark the party's 51st foundation day celebrations.

He added that if the next President proves to be beneficial for all the people of the country and not just Dalits, "then make anybody. We will openly support".

However, he said a final decision on the BJP candidate would be taken at a meeting of party leaders here scheduled for Tuesday.

Harping on the party's pet names — RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and agro-scientist MS Swaminathan — Thackeray said Bhagwat was proposed as India is a Hindu nation, but the country has lost a good opportunity by ignoring him.

"If anybody had reservations about Bhagwat, then we suggested Swaminathan for the benefit of the farmers of the country. We are always standing solidly behind the farming community," said Thackeray.

Earlier this afternoon, Sena MP Sanjay Raut said BJP President Amit Shah called up Thackeray only after announcing Kovind as its candidate for the 17 July election, hinting the party was not taken into confidence beforehand.

"Shah...

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