Don’t contest Pranab: NCP to Sangma
PTI NEW DELHI THE Nationalist Congress Party on Saturday indicated that it would take action against PA Sangma if he persisted with his proposal to contest the Presidential election.
“We will react if he pursues with his candidature”, senior NCP leader and Union Minister Praful Patel told PTI when asked what action was being contemplated by the party against the former Lok Sabha Speaker.
Maintaining that the party’s line was to support UPA’s nominee Pranab Mukherjee for the top constitutional post “unconditionally”, Patel said, “the NCP’s stated position is that we do not subscribe to his (Sangma’s) candidature. We will react only if he files his nomination.” “Let me make it very clear that Sangma does not enjoy support of the NCP. We wish that he does not contest...I don’t think he should defy the party’s direction or the line of thinking”, Patel said.
“In this case, the party’s direction and the line is are to support Pranab Mukherjee unconditionally”, he said.
Sangma is insisting on contesting, saying that he has the support of two Chief Ministers – Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. “I am in the fray as a tribal candidate, not as an NCP candidate”, he had said earlier.
Meanwhile, notwithstanding the clear edge for Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential race, the opposition National Democratic Alliance on Saturday appeared keen on ensuring a contest even if it means supporting P A Sangma in a bid to gain new allies ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
However, there is a section within the NDA, particularly Janta Dal(United), which is of the view that a contest against Mukherjee should be avoided as there could be embarrassment for the coalition.
The NDA leaders will meet on Sunday to finalise the coalition’s position on the issue.
Though there was no official word, all indications were that A P J Abdul Kalam, propped up by Trinamool Congress, may not after all enter the fray in view of the fact that there is no guarantee of victory.
Sensing the ground situation, Mamata launched a campaign in the social media, seeking support for Kalam.
Ahead of the NDA meeting, top leaders of BJP — L K Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Ananth Kumar — met in New Delhi on Saturday night to firm up the party’s stand on the issuewith indications that they are not too enthusiastic about supporting the UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee.
Sources in the BJP said there was a view in the party that there should be a contest, whether it is by backing P A Sangma, the nominee of AIADMK and Biju Janata Dal (BJD), or by supporting Kalam, whose candidature is being pushed by Trinamool Congress. With the possibility of Kalam contesting virtually ruled out, the NDA may plump for Sangma as it may help it win backallies like AIADMK and BJD who were earlier part of the coalition.
Another view was that there could be a bonus if Mamata also backs Sangma given the current bitterness she harbours against Congress.
Interestingly, BJP member Ram Jethmalani tried to inject fresh element, saying he would contest against Mukherjee if the NDA chooses to support the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) nominee because he failed to act against black money.
Meanwhile, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav, who on Saturday met Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders including Naresh Gujral, said after the meeting that NDA will take a collective decision on the matter after its meeting on Sunday.
Slamming attempts to drag Kalam’s name in the Presidential race, Gujral said it amounted to “demeaning and trivialising” Kalam as he has not given his consent for the same. “Why do you take Kalam’s name again and again, when he never said he will contest. We actually trivialise and demean Kalam when we drag his name again and again,” he said. Though sources said that SAD is keen on NDA projecting Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal as a candidate for the post of Vice President in a quid pro quo, Gujral denied any such plan.
“Badal is happy where he is placed. He is in Punjab and he is happy. We are not into a position to advance his name (for Vice President). Will we bring insult on us by doing it when we do not have the numbers,” Gujral said.
At the same time, he said the UPA has never attempted to “accommodate” the Opposition and build consensus on the issue of President.