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Divided NDA defers decision on Presidential poll

PTI 22 Jun 2012, 10:53:57 IST
New Delhi, Jun 17: Strong reservations from key ally JD(U) over pitting a candidate against UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday forced the NDA to defer its decision on the Presidential election.

At a two-hour inconclusive meeting of the NDA, the JD(U) is believed to have not favoured a fight against Mr. Mukherjee because of his stature. However, the BJP is said to have been keen on backing former Speaker P. A. Sangma, who has been propped up by BJD and AIADMK with an eye on the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

After the meeting at BJP leader L.K. Advani's residence, from which the Shiv Sena kept away, NDA convener Sharad Yadav merely said more discussions were needed to arrive at a right decision.

“The NDA meeting took place today. Various leaders put forth their views in detail. More discussions are required in this regard to arrive at the right decision.

“L.K. Advani will talk to Chief Ministers of NDA-ruled states and all others. NDA will meet sometime later again to take a decision in this regard. Those outside (Delhi) will also be consulted,”  Yadav told reporters after the meeting.

The JD(U), which shares power with the BJP in Bihar, was clear that there is no strong purpose served by contesting against Mr. Mukherjee, a tall leader with vast experience in government and Parliament, and more so when the UPA has a clear edge in the electoral college.

However, BJP leaders including Mr. Advani and Sushma Swaraj are understood to have argued that Mr. Mukherjee should not go uncontested, especially in view of the Lok Sabha polls due two years hence.

The BJP is said to be keen on supporting Mr. Sangma so that the alliance can rope in parties like BJD and AIADMK that could be valuable in the next Lok Sabha elections.