Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray would pitch for an early decision on the mercy petition of Afzal Guru, who’s sentenced to death in the December 2001 Parliament attack case, and declaration of Belgaum as a Union Territory in his meeting on Friday with Pranab Mukherjee, the Congress party’s nominee for the presidential election.
The Sena, however, reiterated its support for Mukherjee in the July 19 presidential election was unconditional.
"Balasaheb (Thackeray) has announced that Shiv Sena's support for Pranab is without any strings. The decision has been taken in the larger interest of the nation, considering the importance of the post of President,” a Sena leader and an aide of Thackeray said on condition of anonymity.
“However, the party will ask Mukherjee to take an early decision on the mercy plea of Afzal Guru once he’s in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Our party is of the firm view that Afzal Guru's mercy plea should be rejected and the death penalty be implemented at the earliest," the leader added.
The Shiv Sena has been vocal in its attack against the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government for allegedly delaying the implementation of Afzal Guru’s death penalty.
Regarding Belgaum, “a region in Karnataka dominated by Marathi-speaking people”, the party would make a strong case for announcing it as a Union Territory till the border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka is resolved, the Sena leader said. "For Shiv Sena, Belgaum is an issue of Marathi pride.”
Meanwhile, Congress leaders in Maharashtra are still undecided on who should accompany Mukherjee for his meeting with Thackeray.
A senior Congress minister said the party is divided on the issue.
Mukherjee will be accompanied by Nationalist Congress Party chief and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, who has a long-standing friendship with Thackeray.