Even as senior leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are confident of being able to convince former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma to withdraw his candidature from the presidential election, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is unsure whether to back him or not.
BJP leaders are worried about coming out in support because they want to be sure that Sangma would not withdraw his name from the race under pressure from NCP leaders. BJP was earlier planning to back former president A P J Abdul Kalam, but he decided not to contest.
“PA Sangma is a senior NCP leader. We are meeting on June 21 and he will also attend the meeting. We are confident he will support the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) candidate,” said D P Tripathi, a senior NCP leader.
Sangma is being backed by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Senior NCP leaders are not ruling out the possibility of taking strict action against Sangma if he doesn’t follow the party line.
Although Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy also met Sangma on late Monday evening at his residence, he was unsure whether Sangma would be able to withstand the pressure from NCP and still continue to be in the race for president. Swamy also met senior BJP leader L K Advani to brief him about his meeting with Sangma. The former Lok Sabha speaker has already met Advani a couple of times to seek the support of the NDA parties for his candidature.
Senior leaders of NDA indicated that Advani and Sushma Swaraj, leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, are keen to support a candidate against finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is the candidate of UPA, but other NDA allies, mainly Janata Dal (United), Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), didn’t want to oppose Mukherjee.
“Shiv Sena will support Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential election,” said Sanjay Raut, Shive Sena spokesperson. Problems for BJP also increased as Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar also wants NDA to take a unanimous decision.