New Delhi: Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani revealed Monday that Pranab Mukherjee had called him soon after his candidature for the presidency was announced, but did not ask for support.
Mentioning the call by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the day Mukherjee’s candidature was announced, Advani said, “Shortly thereafter, I received yet another phone call – from Pranab da himself”.In his blog published Monday morning, he also remembered his “cordial relations” with Mukherjee all through their political career.
“He (Mukherjee) conveyed that he had been nominated. But he did not ask for support. He just reminisced about how since 1970, we had been together in parliament, sharing bonds of mutual esteem and affection,” Advani said in his blog.
Mukherjee, in his call, mentioned an incident when Advani had insisted they have lunch together the day he retired from the Rajya Sabha.”I well remember how warm and cordial our interaction was not just for that day, but has been for all these years,” Advani said.
Mukherjee is the ruling United Progressive Alliance’s candidate for the president’s post. Even as BJP leaders have on more than one occasion expressed “respect” for Mukherjee, the party has decided to support former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma in the presidential poll.The veteran BJP leader also countered the charge that the BJP did not go for a consensus on the presidential poll.
Advani said it had become “fashionable” in “political circles” to discuss if the presidential poll should be unanimous, and the question is “often hurled at us in the BJP”.”I hold that the answer to this question depends entirely on the attitude of the ruling party,” he says.
When called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after Mukherjee’s candidature was announced, Advani says he asked: “Would it not have been better if you had consulted the opposition before making the announcement?” ”His (prime minister) reaction was: Well, it is never too late to mend,” he says.
“For several decades since independence, the Congress party’s vote share in the electoral college was so overwhelming that I presume that they never even thought of consulting the opposition,” he adds.