New Delhi: With the race for the presidential elections gaining momentum by the day, the BJP came out in the open and almost backed the candidature of APJ Abdul Kalam for the next president of India on Monday. The saffron party also rejected the name of Congress backed candidates, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Vice-President Hamid Ansari, whose names have been doing the rounds as presidential candidates.
“If Mulayam Singh Yadav takes the name of Abdul Kalam then BJP can respond favourably. We are ok with Kalam but he has to agree to contest,” Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said today. “Our party will never favour the candidature of Ansari and Mukherjee,” she added.
Sushma Swaraj also ruled out any quid pro quo with Congress on the presidential election by accepting the vice-president's post.
On his part Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, whose name along with Ansari has been doing the rounds, parried questions on his candidature saying it is speculation and asked the media not to indulge in it.
Congress-led UPA with 42 percent votes and BJP-led NDA with 28 percent votes can get a candidate agreeable to them elected without support from other parties who are in neither formations.
Lending a new turn to the race more than two months before the elections, Swaraj declared that "we will not accept any candidate including Pranab Mukherjee." "Ansari does not have the stature to be president and hence BJP will not support him," she said.
"We are looking at the 2014 elections and do not want to give the impression that we have any truck with the Congress," the senior BJP leader said.
Senior BJP spokesperson, Ravi Shankar Prasad added they backed the statement made by Swaraj.
This is the first time the BJP has more or less openly backed the name of former president Kalam, clearly putting the name of their choice on the agenda.
Meanwhile, as per sources a key ally of the Congress backed UPA government at the Centre, the DMK has prima facie rejected the name of the former president.
Earlier, when asked by a TV channel to comment on his return to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Kalam had said, “Let us wait for sometime.”
Kalam served as the president between 2002 and 2007. In the 2007 presidential elections, Kalam's name was proposed by smaller parties to enter the race but he backed out at the last minute in the absence of a consensus.
The race for the top most constitutional post in the country is getting interesting by the day with loads of speculations and conjectures. The name of Defence Minister AK Antony, Sam Pitroda and SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal has also popped up time and again.
First Published: Monday, April 30, 2012, 18:03