NDA's presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind today met MLAs and MPs of the BJP and its allies in Maharashtra and called up Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to thank him for supporting his candidature in the July 17 election.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the BJP's state unit chief Raosaheb Danve, Union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Anant Geete (Shiv Sena), BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya and Maharashtra minister Mahadev Jankar (RSP) were among those present at the meeting.
"We all have the duty to preserve the highest importance of the Constitution of India. I would assure of equal justice to all, avoiding discrimination based on caste, religion, sect, gender and region," said Kovind who was in Mumbai for merely three hours as he had to visit Goa and then fly to Gujarat.
He said there should be comprehensive growth of all states of the country and get equal justice for all.
"My preference would be to ensure addressing the aspirations of the youth of the country, promotion and modernisation of education. We will do our utmost to preserve the prestige of the post of the President," Kovind said.
Describing Kovind as an outstanding person with great dedication, Gadkari said, "The NDA has chosen the right candidate for the presidential election. He will get historical success in the election from Maharashtra."
Fadnavis said the NDA's presidential pick has organisational and administrative skills and is a constitution expert.
Danve spoke about Kovind's clean image, simplicity and modesty and asserted, "His victory is certain as there are 239 voters from Maharashtra that are with the NDA while the UPA has only 98 voters."
Maharashtra minister and senior Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai said Thackeray has asked the party MLA to ensure victory of the NDA candidate.
On NDA's presidential nominee not visiting 'Matoshree', senior party leader and state minister Eknath Shinde said, "Kovind thanked Uddhav Thackeray today in his speech for extending support to his candidature. As Kovind has to visit couple of more states, we did not insist him on visiting 'Matoshree'."
A visit to Thackeray's residence 'Matoshree' in suburban Bandra was not in Kovind's itinerary.
Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil, as presidential candidates of the UPA, had visited the then Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray at 'Matoshree' as the party had broken ranks with the NDA in the past two elections for the highest constitutional office.
"We have already extended our support to Kovind. As per Thackeray's orders, all the MLAs and MPs of Shiv Sena have decided to vote for Kovind," he said.
Union Minister and RPI(A) chief Ramdas Athawale said everyone is happy that Kovind, who is associated with the Ambedkarite movement, will be the president.
Swabhimani Shetakari Sanghatana MP Raju Shetti, who was present when Kovind had filed his nomination for the presidential election, was absent today as he was busy with farmers' rally in north India.
Earleir, Kovind was welcomed at the airport by BJP leaders, Union ministers Gadkari and Athawale, and Fadnavis.