Presidential poll: NDA divided, Sangma firm on contest
The BJP-led NDA opposition is yet to decide on its strategy for the Presidential election. Its meeting in New Delhi on Sunday remained inconclusive and more consultations will be held.
Strong reservations from key ally JD(U) over pitting a candidate against UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee apparently forced the NDA to defer its decision on the Presidential election.
At a two-hour inconclusive meeting of the NDA, the JD(U) is believed to have not favoured a fight against . Mukherjee because of his stature. However, the BJP is said to have been keen on backing former Speaker P. A. Sangma, who has been propped up by BJD and AIADMK with an eye on the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Sangma too is defiant and has said he is still in the race despite a warning from his party, headed by Sharad Pawar, that action could be taken if he does not withdraw. Sangma’s name was originally floated by AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa in league with BJD leader and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
In the meanwhile, former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is under pressure to contest, especially by Trinamool Congress leader mamata banerjee who has launched a cyber war in his support, seeking support for Kalam.
After the meeting at BJP leader L.K. Advani’s residence, from which the Shiv Sena kept away, NDA convener Sharad Yadav merely said more discussions were needed to arrive at a right decision. “The NDA meeting took place today. Various leaders put forth their views in detail. More discussions are required in this regard to arrive at the right decision.
“L.K. Advani will talk to Chief Ministers of NDA-ruled states and all others. NDA will meet sometime later again to take a decision in this regard. Those outside (Delhi) will also be consulted,” Yadav told reporters after the meeting.
The JD(U), which shares power with the BJP in Bihar, was clear that there is no strong purpose served by contesting against Mukherjee, a tall leader with vast experience in government and Parliament, and more so when the UPA has a clear edge in the electoral college. However, BJP leaders including Advani and Sushma Swaraj are understood to have argued that Mukherjee should not go uncontested, especially in view of the Lok Sabha polls due two years hence.
The BJP is said to be keen on supporting Sangma so that the alliance can rope in parties like BJD and AIADMK that could be valuable in the next Lok Sabha elections.
PA Sangma on Sunday reiterated that he was still in the fray for the presidential poll as a tribal candidate, and said that he would appeal to his party boss Sharad Pawar to back him in the race for Raisina Hill. "I have maintained right from the beginning that I am a candidate of the Tribal Forum of India, which is nothing to do with any political party. I am a candidate of the Tribal Forum of India. And, as a candidate of the Tribal Forum of India, I have gone across to all political parties appealing for support. This is the position. Therefore, it is very clear that I am not an NCP candidate," said Sangma.
When asked whether he has spoken to the TMC chief seeking support for himself, Sangma said “I have appealed to her also to support my candidature." He said that Banerjee was insistent on the name of former President APJ Abdul Kalam. Confirming that Sangma did speak to Mamata Banerjee, Trinamool Congress MP Kunal Ghose said Mamata, however, told Sangma, to support APJ Abdul Kalam in the event of the former President's contesting the election. The TMC chief also asked Sangma to withdraw from the race if Kalam, whom she wants to join the fray, agreed to contest, Ghose said.
On Friday, Mamata wrote on Facebook in support of Kalam's candidature: "I gave voice to what millions of Indians want to see in a President. My Party is a small party. We are not a big party with none of the resources others possess. We are led by truth and conviction." She further wrote, "He is a seeker of truth, a fount of knowledge and an impartial voice of reason and sanity, who is above narrow politics. He is the kind of man all our citizens aspire to make President."
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat on Sunday said the Left parties will meet on June 21 to decide on their candidate for the July 19 presidential election.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar had earlier said that he would persuade Sangma to withdraw his candidature for the presidential poll. "My party is going to meet on 21st (June) and my party will take an appropriate decision about that. We are confident that he will listen to the party.
He is a senior person. He was speaker of the Lok Sabha. I am confident that if the party makes a decision he will respect that," Pawar told media in Pune. The NCP has decided to back UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee for the prestigious post.
The Presidential elections will be held on July 19. The vote count will take place on July 22. Pratibha Devisingh Patil's term as President ends on July 24.
- Asian Tribune –