New Delhi: In a move that seems to be adding to the divide existing within the Opposition ranks over the Presidential poll, Shiv Sena did not attend the crucial NDA meeting on Sunday held at BJP leader LK Advani’s residence.
"Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackerey will take a decision on the issue," said party MP Sanjay Raut, when asked about speculation that the Sena was against fielding any candidate against Pranab Mukherjee, UPA`s Presidential nominee.
The NDA had called the key meeting to decide on its Presidential nominee, but it ended without any consensus being reached. Wide differences cropped up within the coalition with Shiv Sena unsure of supporting PA Sangma as the Presidential candidate, another section rooting for APJ Abdul Kalam and yet another favouring Pranab Mukherjee.
According to the sources, Shiv Sena prefers APJ Abdul Kalam for Presidential nominee and not PA Sangma.
The key NDA constituent BJP doesn’t want to be seen supporting its arch-rival Congress’ choice – Pranab Mukherjee and thus wants a contest against him but others within are wary of the embarrassment that may come with it as NDA doesn’t have enough numbers and Kalam too hasn’t clarified if he will contest.
The BJP may support the candidature of PA Sangma, sources added.
The BJP core group met, yesterday, at the residence of BJP president Nitin Gadkari to chalk out its strategy on the Presidential polls.
Party sources said the name of Sangma figured in the core group meeting, and the same was discussed with JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar over telephone.
A senior BJP leader is also reported to have spoken to Sangma over his candidature. Further, senior BJP leaders are likely to speak to Mamata Banerjee on the matter.
Reports said the BJP has even asked Sangma to speak to Mamata over his candidature. Meanwhile, BJP leader Ram Jethmalani also jumped in the Presidential poll fray, saying he would contest for the top post if the BJP decides to back Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee`s candidature.