Differences in NDA as race for president nears

A day after the BJP hinted that it could support the candidature of APJ Abdul Kalam for the post of president, the NDA stands divided on the choice.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: A day after the BJP hinted that it could support the candidature of APJ Abdul Kalam for the post of president, the NDA stands divided on the choice even as Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi’s name appeared to be steadily gaining traction. Janata Dal (United)’s Sharad Yadav, who is also the convenor of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), said no discussions had taken place in the opposition alliance.

Yadav said the remarks by Sushma Swaraj yesterday that they could back the candidature of Kalam were BJP’s views and not necessarily of other NDA parties.

He said Swaraj’s views do not endorse JD(U)’s stand as the party has not yet decided on names for the presidential polls.

Stunned by JD(U)`s reaction, the saffron party fielded two of its spokespersons -- Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Shah Nawaz Hussain -- to answer questions on the differences within NDA.

Rudy said what Swaraj said yesterday was said from the BJP platform and not NDA.

He also said that Yadav was only replying to questions by media. "There is no rift between BJP and JD(U). It (rift) is mere speculation and interpretation which is uncalled for", he said. Rudy said that there has been no discussion within NDA on the issue.

Hussain said that Swaraj had made the point that there would be 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.
“The leader of opposition had said that people of the stature of Kalam, who was earlier proposed by Mulayam Singh, would have BJP`s backing”, Hussain added clarifying on Swaraj’s comment.

He also claimed that Swaraj made no reference to Ansari`s political stature.

The Samajwadi Party, which has emerged as a key player in deciding who could next occupy the Rashtrapati Bhavan, is mulling the ‘suitability’ of SY Quraishi, the current Chief Election Commissioner.

If the SP officially nominates Quraishi for the post, it is likely that most of the political parties would endorse his name. And BJP’s Sushma Swaraj had yesterday said that her party could support the presidential candidate of smaller parties if they in turn decided to back BJP’s candidate for the vice-president.

If that happens, Quraishi – a Muslim face – could emerge as a frontrunner.

Samajwadi Party leader Kamal Farooqi today clearly stated that his party was in favour of a Muslim candidate occupying the post of the President. He however maintained that it was against "communalising" the elections for the constitutional office.
Farooqi said parties like SP, BSP and Trinamool Congress can have a consensus in supporting a presidential candidate but added that the idea was not to isolate the UPA.

Farooqi said his party was also thinking about names like Vice President Hamid Ansari and former Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan.

RJD’s Lalu Prasad Yadav has also supported the candidature of Hamid Ansari.

The Left, meanwhile, has hinted that it was not averse to supporting Pranab Mukherjee for the post of President. Left leaders indicated that they could also support Hamid Ansari if he emerges as a consensus candidate.

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