The BJP core group met in New Delhi on Saturday to decide on supporting Finance Minister and Congress veteran Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature for the country’s presidency.
The meeting came against the backdrop of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) getting divided over pitching a candidate against Mukherjee, the ruling United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) choice for the top post.
While the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) do not want to pitch a candidate against Mukherjee, Subramanian Swamy-led Janata Party and the Shiv Sena are in favour of bringing an opposition candidate, say sources.
The meeting was held at BJP president Nitin Gadkari’s residence. The NDA is scheduled to meet today to discuss the presidential election. Meanwhile, JD-U leader Shivanand Tiwari made a pitch for supporting Mukherjee, saying it was his “personal view.” Sources in the JD-U say that at the NDA meeting, the party leaders will stress on supporting Mukherjee.
The BJP has been saying that it will not support a Congress candidate. The party is in favour of former president APJ Abdul Kalam. “Akali Dal has been a disciplined ally. We have no personal views,” Gujral said, adding that a decision would be taken on Sunday.
On Friday, PM Manmohan Singh called BJP leaders LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley and sought the party’s cooperation in electing Mukherjee as the next president. Meanwhile, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad Yadav said on Saturday that all political parties should unanimously elect Mukherjee as the next president of the country. “My party is supporting his nomination,” Yadav said.
Senior Janata Dal (United) leader, Shivanand Tiwari, said that currently the numbers were in favour of Mukherjee.
“I would like to congratulate him. The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have already extended their support. It is also indicated that the Left parties will also support Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature. So the big picture reveals that majority of them are in Mukherjee’s favour,” Tiwari said.
Mamata for Kalam
Terming her support for APJ Abdul Kalam for the President’s post as the “voice of millions of Indians,” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee logged onto Facebook and appealed to users to come out to support him.
Quoting a poem by Tagore, she wrote, “I am a humble, transparent, common person like the vast majority of you. I gave voice to what millions of Indians want to see in a President. Abdul Kalam is a proud and distinguished son of India who continues to inspire all Indians.”