Mumbai: A historic day for Maharashtrians, that's how Saamna, the Shiv Sena mouthpiece, described Rajasthan Governor Pratibha Patil's candidature for presidency a few days ago.
“This is the first time a Maharashtrian is becoming the President and we have no hesitation in accepting this,” Saamna Editor Sanjay Raut said proudly.
But now, the party's alliance partner in Maharashtra – the BJP – is in no mood to support a consensus candidate and has made it quite clear that the NDA will field a candidate against Patil.
The result? The Shiv Sena might just have to eat its words.
“The party has still not decided its stand on this issue. When the Sena chief decides, he will announce it,” Shiv Sena Executive President, Uddhav Thackeray said.
It's obvious the Sena is torn between its loyalty to the BJP and its political plank – the cause of the Marathi manoos in Maharashtra.
However, it is an issue that is getting mixed reactions from across the state.
“A Maharashtrian lady achieving the nation's highest post is a matter of great pride for us,” a Sena worker in Nagpur, Bandu Tavdekar said.
While there are other Sena workers who are walking the tightrope saying, “Sonia Gandhi's decision for this candidate is a political one.”
Sources say Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray is clearly caught in a bind and is finding it difficult to make up his mind on the issue.
So, will the Sena finally toe the BJP line? The party is expected to announce its decision before Wednesday.