Mumbai, July 15 (IANS) The NDA’s presidential candidate, Ram Nath Kovind, arrived here on Saturday for a brief campaign in Maharashtra for the July 17 elections.
However, he will not meet Uddhav Thackeray, President of NDA ally.
Kovind was warmly received at the Mumbai Airport by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari and Ramdas Athawale and other senior Bharatiya Janata Party functionaries and officials.
Shortly thereafter, the former Bihar Governor drove down to the Garware Club in south Mumbai to address a meeting of all NDA constituents’ legislators and parliamentarians to solicit their support for Monday’s elections.
After lunch, Kovind would depart from Mumbai and there were no plans to meet Thackeray, whose party will vote with the National Democratic Alliance for the first time in 10 years.
Earlier, in 2012, President Pranab Mukherjee had personally met the Shiv Sena founder-supremo, the late Bal Thackeray at his Bandra residence, after which the party extended its support.
Previously in 2008, Thackeray failed to toe the NDA line and unilaterally announced support to United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate Pratibha Patil on the ground that she was the first Maharashtrian and a woman to be contesting for the country’s top Constitutional post.
This time, after initial hiccups and keeping the NDA on tenterhooks for several days, Shiv Sena finally declared support to Kovind.
Earlier the party had drummed up support for Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat and renowned agro-scientist M.S. Swaminathan, which were not considered by the NDA.
BJP chief Amit Shah had held a long meeting with Thackeray on these and other issues and finally the Sena acquiesced, much to the relief of the NDA.