Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) patriarch LK Advani on Monday slammed the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government over its Presidential election candidate Pranab Mukherjee and said it did not create a consensus for the poll.
Advani wrote on his latest blog: "In political circles, it is fashionable these days to raise the question: should not an election to this high constitutional office be a unanimous election, based on a consensual agreement arrived at between Government and the Opposition?"
"This question is often hurled at us in the BJP as if by deciding to support Sangma sponsored by two eminent Chief Ministers against Congress' Pranab Mukherji, we are doing something improper. I hold that the answer to this question depends entirely on the attitude of the ruling party," he said.
Advani blogged Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called him immediately after Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi announced the name of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as UPA´s candidate for the titular post in order to gain the support of the main opposition party of the country.
"When within minutes of Soniaji announcing the name of Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the P.M. phoned me to tell me that the U.P.A.'s candidate would be Pranab and requested for our support," Advani said.
He said: "My comment was: ´You are now only informing us.; would it not have been better if you had consulted the Opposition before making the announcement?´ His reaction was: ´Well, it is never too late to mend´."
He said Mukherjee also called him to inform about his nomination but did not ask for ´support´.
"Shortly thereafter I received yet another phone call: from Pranab Da (Pranab Mukherjee) himself. He conveyed that he had been nominated. But he did not ask for support," Advani said.
"He (Mukherjee) just reminisced about how since 1970 we had been together in Parliament, sharing bonds of mutual esteem and affection," he said.
The senior BJP leader said: "For several decades since independence, the Congress Party's vote share in the Electoral college was so overwhelming that I presume that they never even thought of consulting the opposition."
"In contrast, when in 2002, the NDA as the ruling coalition thought of putting up Dr. Kalam (APJ Abdul Kalam) as its candidate for Presidentship, Vajpayee spoke to Soniaji and Mulayam Singh and brought them on board to support the NDA candidate," he said.
The BJP on June 21 announced former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma as their candidate for the titular post.
Pertinently, Advani´s blog was published on a day when the Congress Working Committee (CWC), highest decision making body of the party, convened a special meeting to bid a formal farewell to Mukherjee.
After the meeting, Mukherjee told reporters: "Today my long association with the Congress Working Committee since 1978 came to an end. I met the Prime Minister. Tomorrow I will be putting in my paper [as finance minister]."
The meeting took place at Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi´s 10 Janpath residence in the national capital.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Gandhi and other senior party leaders were present at the meeting.
Mukherjee will quit from the CWC soon.
He will step down from his post of Union Finance Minister on Tuesday.
Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters on Monday Mukherjee will file his nomination for the upcoming Presidential poll on June 28.
The Presidential election is scheduled for July 19.