Mumbai: The Shiv Sena will on Tuesday announce its stand on the National Democratic Alliance's presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind.
On Monday, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray had said that his party would not back Kovind if he has been chosen with an intention to garner Dalit votes.
Addressing the 51st Foundation Day function of Shiv Sena in suburban Matunga last evening, Thackeray said: “We have never played politics using anybody as a shield. We had suggested the name of MS Swaminathan so that farmers get benefited. We will always support the cause of farmers.”
"There are attempts being made to play politics over a Dalit presidential candidate. If that is so, we are not interested in backing him. We will give our final decision on the NDA nominee tomorrow (Tuesday)," Thackeray, the oldest and most prominent ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, said.
He had, however, 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".
On two occasions in the past, the Shiv Sena had deviated from the NDA line by supporting UPA candidates: in 2007 when Pratibha Patil won the election and in 2012 when incumbent Pranab Mukherjee was elected.
On the first occasion, Sena supremo Bal Thackeray had thrown his lot behind Patil on grounds that she was the first Maharashtrian and a woman to occupy the top constitutional post.
Patil defeated NDA candidate and Vice President BS Shekhawat.
In 2012, Mukherjee personally called up and later met Thackeray soliciting his support, which the Sena chief offered, going against the BJP-supported NDA candidate, PA Sangma.
This time round, the Sena stance on Kovind's candidature would be considered crucial as it is a partner both at the centre and in Maharashtra.
(With Agency inputs)