It’s Pranab v/s Sangma
New Delhi, June 21: The Presidential election is going to witness a contest between Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and the NDA backed former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma. The lineup became clear after BJP, the mainstay of the NDA, formally adopted the latter as the opposition combine’s joint candidate overlooking fissures within the coalition.
The differences in the NDA came in the open as Janata Dal (U) also announced its support for Mukherjee. Another NDA ally Shiv Sena has already announced their support for the UPA candidate.
Announcing the decision at a press conference, BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley said the main opposition party could not support a government which is using “various maneuvers”, including investigative agencies, to rope in parties to stay in power. “BJP has decided to support the candidature” of Sangma, whose name has been proposed by AIADMK and Biju Janata Dal, Swaraj said.
She described Sangma as “the country’s tall leader” and also North East’s “tallest leader” and appealed allies like Shiv Sena and JD-U to give up their opposition to his candidature. Swaraj and Jaitley regretted that BJP could not persuade its allies and have a consensus in the NDA over the issue but insisted that it would have no impact on the “mature” coalition.
However, the two NDA leaders put up a brave face and rejected the notion of a division within the NDA over Presidential candidate. She noted that Shiv Sena had earlier also voted for UPA nominee Pratibha Patil during the last Presidential poll even though NDA had opposed her candidature but still remained part of the alliance. The BJP was trying to bring Trinamool Congress on board but refused to reveal how it was being done, they added.
The Opposition party says that the Prime Minister’s request for their support for Mukherjee came too late after a “unilateral” decision to field Mukherjee. On June 15, the Congress declared Mukherjee as the candidate of the coalition it leads, the UPA.
“A prerequisite of consensus is consultation,” Swaraj said. She acknowledged that two major allies of the BJP, the Shiv Sena and Nitish Kumar, have refused to back Sangma adding: “We are still trying to get them on board.”
Jaitley expressed hope that the BJP will be able to convince West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to vote for Sangma as well. Though Mamata is a member of the UPA, she has been estranged from the coalition over her refusal to support Mukherjee. She campaigned aggressively for a new term for former president Abdul Kalam. However, he eventually decided not to run for President, partly because the mathematics appears to be in Mukherjee’s favour. “The logical pursuit of what Mamata Banerjee has started should be to support the Opposition candidate,” said Jaitley.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 21 Jun 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 21 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 22 Jun 2012 00:00:00 IST
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