13 Sena Lok Sabha MPs attend meet on Prez polls; most support Murmu
MUMBAI: Thirteen of the 18 Lok Sabha MPs of the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra on Monday physically attended a key meeting on the presidential elections and a majority of them suggested supporting the BJP-led NDA's candidate Droupadi Murmu for the top constitutional post, party leader Gajanan Kiritkar said.
Some party MLAs and leaders, especially those from the adivasi community, have already asked the leadership of the Shiv Sena, a former ally of the BJP, to back Murmu because of her tribal roots.
However, party MP and chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut claimed of the 18 MPs in the Lok Sabha, 15 attended the meeting held at 'Matoshree', the residence of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray in suburban Bandra. He did not provide details.
Besides 18 members in the Lower House of Parliament from Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena also has its MP, Kalaben Delkar, in the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
It has three MPs in the Rajya Sabha - Sanjay Raut, Priyanka Chaturvedi and Anil Desai.
Raut and Chaturvedi took part in the meeting at 'Matoshree', while Desai was away in New Delhi to attend the Supreme Court hearing on matters related to disqualification of Shiv Sena MLAs and other issues.
The in-person attendance of Lok Sabha members assumes significance as last week rebel MLA Gulabrao Patil had claimed 12 out of the 18 party MPs were in touch with the dissident camp.
The rebel camp led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has claimed the support of 40 of the 55 Sena MLAs.
Kiritkar said 13 MPs physically attended the meeting, while three others -- Sanjay Jadhav (Parbhani), Sanjay Mandlik (Kolhapur) and Hemant Patil (Hingoli) -- could not make it to the gathering, but affirmed their support to the leadership.
“Most of the MPs were of the opinion that the party should support Droupadi Murmu,” Kirtikar told PTI.
Earlier, two Sena MPs - Rajendra Gavit and Rahul Shewale - had separately written letters to Thackeray urging him to support Murmu for the post of President.
Shiv Sena MP from Ramtek in Nagpur district Krupal Tumane said he did attend the party meeting on presidential elections in Mumbai and rubbished media reports about his absence.
Tumane, in a statement in Nagpur, said news reports claiming he was not present at the meeting were ''baseless and not true''.
The Lok Sabha member said he held discussions with the Sena president on the poll issue.
The presidential polls will be held on July 18 in which 4,809 members comprising MPs and MLAs will vote to elect incumbent Ram Nath Kovind's successor. Counting votes will take place in the national capital on July 21.
Major opposition parties led by the Congress and the TMC have jointly fielded former Union minister Yashwant Sinha for the top post.