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Presidential poll: Rift in NDA, Left may support Congress

New Delhi(IANS): Differences appeared Tuesday in the opposition National Democratic Alliance over the presidential candidate while the Left indicated it may support a Congress candidate.

A day after BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said her party would not support Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee or Vice President Hamid Ansari, Janata Dal-United leader and NDA convenor Sharad Yadav bluntly said that allies did not necessarily share her view.

“The view that Sushma-ji has expressed is their party’s view. There has not been any discussion with us or in the NDA on the presidential candidates,” Sharad Yadav told reporters.

Sushma had said her party was open to former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
Attempting to paper over the cracks, BJP spokespersons later said Sharad Yadav was right and the views expressed by Sushma were not of the NDA.

“Mrs. Sushma Swaraj had said it has not been discussed on NDA forum. The line taken by both leaders are the same,” party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

“There is no rift whatsoever between BJP and JD-U on this issue. It’s mere speculation or an interpretation, which was uncalled,” he said.

Even as BJP leaders said they will soon hold discussions with NDA partners and then with rest of the opposition, Left leaders hinted that they may well go the Congress’ way on choosing the next president.

Communist Party of India-Marxist Politburo member Brinda Karat took exception to Sushma Swaraj’s reported remarks that Ansari lacked the stature for the presidential post. “It is inappropriate to talk about the stature of the vice president,” Brinda Karat said.

Another party leader said the left parties will meet May 4 to decide on which candidate to support. The Left has also been seeking to build consensus over a candidate. CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury had earlier said that it did not matter if the candidate was political or apolitical.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad reiterated that it would back Vice President Ansari. “Ansari is a capable and competent man for the top post. He should be supported by all,” Lalu Prasad said.

The Samajwadi Party (SP), which is extending outside support to the Congress-led government, however agreed with the BJP that Kalam was a good choice but stressed more on having a Muslim candidate.

SP leader Kamal Farooqui also suggested the names of Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi and former deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha K. Rahman Khan.

“My party is discussing names. We will come out with a name very soon… the non-NDA parties are in support of a Muslim candidate, and as BJP is for A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, they may also support if a good Muslim candidate is pitched,” Farooqui told TV news channel Times Now.

“Kalam saab is a good candidate… but we have not agreed on any name so far, we are discussing it,” he said. President Pratibha Patil’s term ends in the third week of July.
The UPA has over 40 percent of the total votes in the electoral college while the NDA has less than 30 percent. Neither grouping can elect a presidential candidate on its own electoral strength.

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