New Delhi: Senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut described Pranab Mukherjee as the best President India has ever had.
Raut told Economic Times that the Sena, under Bal Thackeray’s leadership, had broken ranks with BJP to support Mukherjee’s presidential candidature in 2012, when the saffron party backed the losing candidate PA Sangma.
“The manner in which President Pranab Mukherjee has conducted himself has proven that he is the best President India has had, so far. His long innings in public life, unparalleled administrative experience, knowledge about constitutional matters and governance, wisdom and impeccable conduct make him a national asset. His very DNA is the wisdom for solving national issues. Therefore, it is too early to talk about President Mukherjee’s retirement,” Raut told Economic Times.
When his attention was drawn by Economic Times to reports about the preparation of a post-retirement home for Mukherjee, Raut, Sena’s official spokesperson who is also the head of his Parliamentary Party in the Rajya Sabha, said: “At the time of the 2012 presidential elections, when BJP broached the issue of the presidential candidature, the Shiv Sena leadership had conveyed to it our decision to support Pranab Mukherjee. Similarly, the Sena will make it clear whether we favour a second term for President Pranab Mukherjee or support someone else’s candidature when the BJP leadership formally broaches the issue with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.”
Barring speculations , Rashtrapati Bhavan has not commented on President Mukherjee’s views on retirement or a second term. While the NDA is comfortably placed to dictate the course of the 2017 vice-presidential polls (where only MPs vote), there will be clarity on the electoral college for the presidential elections only after the assembly elections to Uttar Pradesh, the largest state with the biggest share, is completed.