New Delhi, June 09: The contours of the summer campaign for the Presidential election changed dramatically on Sunday with the ruling NDA postponing a formal decision to endorse its favoured nominee, P C Alexander, and a united opposition urging President K R Narayanan to run for a second term.
The crucial NDA meeting scheduled for the day was ‘‘postponed indefinitely’’ as the government decided to review its options in the face of the Opposition’s steadfast refusal to back Maharashtra governor Alexander. Officially, it was said the meeting was called off to ‘‘facilitate further consultations’’.
Unofficially, however, NDA sources admitted that the last-minute decision of TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu to stay away from the meeting threw a spanner in the works. No fresh dates have been announced for the next NDA meeting. Some NDA sources also suggested the delay may be tactical and could be linked to the ongoing political crisis in Maharashtra where Alexander, as governor, has to play a key role.
So far, no dissension in the NDA’s ranks has surfaced over Alexander’s nomination though the government is believed to be taken aback by the vehemence of the opposition’s reaction.
Indeed in a rare show of Opposition unity, Congress leader Manmohan Singh, Amar Singh of the Samajwadi Party, Harkishen Singh Surjeet of the CPM and A B Bardhan of the CPI met Narayanan on Sunday and urged him to enter the contest. Congress spokesman Jaipal Reddy said the Opposition was prompted to take this direct step because NDA interlocutors had said on Saturday that Alexander was the ruling combines’ candidate.
Naidu, according to NDA sources, was told on Saturday that the ruling combine had decided to name Alexander as its nominee