New Delhi: Differences surfaced in the NDA camp over President’s election with JD(U) disapproving BJP’s unilateral decision on the issue as Left parties and RJD backed Vice President Hamid Ansari for the post.
Samajwadi Party, which is outside the UPA and NDA formations, today sought to inject a new element in the race saying the party would favour an eminent Muslim candidate including the name of Ansari.
Stunned by JD(U)’s sharp reaction, the BJP sought to do some damage control explaining that Sushma Swaraj’s announcement yesterday that her party will not not back any Congress candidate including Pranab Mukherjee and Ansari was made from the BJP platform and not not NDA.
Embarrasing BJP JD(U) leader and NDA conveneor Sharad Yadav said “Whatever Sushma Swaraj has said is the opinion of the BJP. This is not our party’s view. The issue was not discussed in any NDA meeting. BJP has not discussed the issue with us.”
He also said that the country is in a bad shape and ”everybody needs to be on the side of caution on this issue”.
Asked whether JD-U agrees with the stand of Swaraj, Yadav merely said, “Ours is a different party and their’s is another. Neither have we discussed this issue with the BJP nor have they done it with us so far.”
Yadav also referred to the statement of SAD leader Sukhbir Singh Badal to hammer home his point that the issue has not been decided by NDA as yet.
Badal said that there has been “no formal meeting” of the alliance so far and hence he cannot comment that who will be NDA’s Presidential candidate.
Yadav said the NDA has not not discussed the issue of Presidential candidate and whether to support or to put up the name of former President Abdul Kalam as the alliance candidate this time, thereby indicating that Swaraj’s view on the subject is merely that of BJP.
The BJP today fielded two of its spokespersons to field questions from the media on the differences within NDA over Swaraj’s remarks.
Senior leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said what Swaraj said yesterday was said from the BJP platform and not not NDA, implying that it was only the views of the BJP and was not not claimed to be that of NDA.
He also said Yadav was only replying to questions by media. “There is no no rift whatsoever between BJP and JD(U.
It (rift) is mere speculation and interpretation which is uncalled for”, he said there has been no no discussion within NDA on the issue.
Shah Nawaz Hussain, another BJP MP who was with Swaraj when she talked to reporters yesterday, said that the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha had made the point that there would be no no deal with Congress on the Presidential election.
“Whatever we do, we will do it along with the Opposition. First discussion in BJP, then in NDA and with the larger Opposition,” he quoted Swaraj as saying.
Hussain said replying to a question Swaraj had said that people of the stature of Kalam, who was earlier proposed by Mulayam Singh Yadav, would have BJP’s backing.
He also claimed that Swaraj made no no reference to Ansari’s political stature and that everything now now was premature.
The Left parties meanwhile said they were holding informal discussions with some others and favoured evolving a consensus on the name of a Presidential nominee, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat told reporters here today.
“We have not not thought of any individual names. We are talking to some of the parties and we hope that there can be a common understanding emerging on who should be the Presidential candidate,” he said.
But sources in the Left parties, which have been advocating “maximum consensus”, indicated that they may not be averse to supporting a candidate like Vice President Hamid Ansari if Congress comes up with his name.
They are also of the view that the Congress party may not not field Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee because of his utility for the government. But they have no no reservations over his name.
The Left leaders, who would be meeting among themselves on Friday, are clear that they would not support former President A P J Abdul Kalam whom they had opposed earlier too.
CPI National Secretary D Raja said the four parties would meet on May four and hold “preliminary consultations” on the matter. “This will be the first occasion when we meet to discuss this iss ue,” he said.
The Left parties continue to oppose Kalam as his name has been mooted by the BJP. The parties had put up a leading light of Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army, Capt Lakshmi Sehgal, against Kalam during the 2002 Presidential poll.
In fact, Ansari was the choice of Left parties before he was elected as Vice President during UPA-I when the government was dependent on their outside support.
In Patna, RJD leader Lalu Prasad said that his party would support Ansari, whom he described as “good personality and appropriate” for the President’s post.
Kamal Farooqui, leader of the Samajwadi Party, said his party would pitch for a “competent” Muslim candidate as it has a good following in the community and wants to do something for it.
He floated the names of Ansari, former Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Rehman Khan and Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi for the post. He said his party had earlier backed Kalam when he was made the President but now now the Congress seemed to be having reservations.