New Delhi, June 16: In another twist in the Presidential poll race, sources said on Saturday that the main opposition BJP may not, after all, back Pranab Mukherjee for the President’s post.
Sources said the BJP may support the candidature of PA Sangma of the NCP, who has the support of several leaders including Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa.
The UPA had named Pranab as its Presidential candidate on Friday evening. The SP, BSP RJD, and several other parties have extended support for Pranab’s candidature.
As per sources, the BJP would not want to be seen as supporting the Congress candidate and that’s why the talk of supporting Sangma.
The BJP core group met on Saturday at the residence of BJP president Nitin Gadkari to chalk out its strategy on the Presidential polls. It however deferred a final decision on the matter till Sunday when the NDA meets at 11 am at LK Advani's residence to discuss the matter.
BJP leader Ananth Kumar said LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari have spoken to other NDA leaders on the issue.
Sources said the name of Sangma figured in the core group meeting, and the same was discussed with JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar over telephone.
A senior BJP leader is also reported to have spoken to Sangma over his candidature. Further, senior BJP leaders are likely to speak to Mamata Banerjee on the matter.
Reports said the BJP has even asked Sangma to speak to Mamata over his candidature.
With former president APJ Abdul Kalam unlikely to enter the fray for presidency, there was earlier talk of the BJP-led NDA backing the veteran Congress man, who shares an excellent equation with opposition leaders. In return, NDA could bargain for Vice-President’s post.
The NDA is divided over pitching a candidate against Mukherjee. JD(U) and the SAD have suggested a consensus on Mukherjee's candidature keeping his stature in mind. However, the Janata Party and the Shiv Sena are in favour of bringing an opposition candidate, sources said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on Friday called up Leaders of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, respectively, as well as senior BJP leader LK Advani to seek support for Mukherjee’s candidature.
Singh also called leaders of parties in Parliament to seek their backing for Mukherjee’s candidature.
Pranab shares a healthy relationship and commands respect cutting across party lines.