OUR BUREAU New Delhi The BJP- led National Democratic Alliance ( NDA) is sharply divided on letting ruling UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee be elected the next President of India without a challenge.
A strong view in the Opposition g
roup is to back former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A Sangma if it is not able to field own candidate.
A day ahead of the NDAs meeting on Sunday, BJP president Nitin Gadkari held a meeting of the partys core group at his residence here Saturday evening, after voices emerged from some of the BJP leaders not to give up the contest just because Mukherjee has the numbers to win in any case.
Though the BJP crafted its policy carefully to open its cards only in Sundays NDA meeting, party patriarch Lal Krishna Advani was reportedly in favour of backing Sangma if former President APJ Abdul Kalam backs out for not becoming a consensus candidate. Sources said Lok Sabha Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj agreed with him. Ahead of the BJP core group meeting, Advani is reported to have conveyed to Gadkari not to reject Sangma just because his Nationalist Congress Partys chief Sharad Pawar has disowned him because of the coalition compulsion.
DONalt39alt39 T CAVE IN: ” We cannot let the UPA nominee go unchallenged. At a time when its popular stock is plummeting by the day, we do not want to convey the impression that we have caved in before them,” a senior BJP leader said, pointing out that the apparent defeat should not deter the Opposition from putting up at least a token fight.
JD( U) DIVIDE: Janata Dal( U) leader Shivanand Tiwari jumped the gun, suggesting that the party would favour Pranab become a consensus candidate, but he was quickly snubbed in Delhi by party president Sharad Yadav, who is also the NDA convener, that Shivanand has expressed his personal view and not the partyalt39alt39 s view. ” The NDA is meeting tomorrow ( Sunday). We will discuss in the meeting and take a stand. I canalt39t say anything before the meeting,” Yadav said.