Prez poll: Jethmalani opposes Pranab

Last Updated: Sat, Jun 16, 2012 19:19 hrs

New Delhi: Amid expectations that the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) might support Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee for the post of President, BJP leader and legal eagle Ram Jethmalani said he would not let the Congress trouble shooter win the poll unchallenged.

A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) core group meeting also failed to come out with a decision on Saturday.

The Rajya Sabha MP told news channels that he would contest the polls if need be.

"I might lose, but will still contest Presidential poll. Pranab is a friend, but I oppose his candidature. He hasn't revealed names of black money holders," Jethmalani told NDTV.

Meanwhile, hectic parleys continued among the NDA partners.

The core group of the BJP met at the residence of party president Nitin Gadkari in the evening to discuss its strategy for the upcoming Presidential election, deciding whether to support Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's candidacy for the post.

Reports said NDA's constituent Janata Dal (U) led by Nitish Kumar might support Pranab Mukherjee.

However, the final decision of the NDA is likely to be known on Sunday.

Mukherjee's was pitched as a nominee of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) by the Congress on Friday, despite opposition from key ally Trinamool Congress (TMC) that has proposed the name of former President A P J Abdul Kalam.

TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee Friday returned to Kolkata in a huff after Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh first sided with the West Bengal Chief Minister in opposing Pranab Mukherjee, only to turn a volte face and declare his support for the Congress leader.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati also supported Pranab Mukherjee.

Even though Kalam was among the names the BJP had initially expressed support for, the party has grown increasingly non-committal over announcing a nominee on the public platorm amid reports that it was hoping to broker a deal with the Congress.

BJP might ask for the post of Vice-president for its leader Jaswant Singh in lieu of supporting Pranab, some reports said.

On Friday, just hours before the Congress formally unveiled Mukherjee as its Presidential nominee, BJP patriarch L K Advani criticised the ruling party for making a mess of the process that will culminate in an electoral college vote on July 19.

However, following the announcement of Mukherjee's name, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Husain, welcomed the nomination but expressed resentment that his party had not been consulted.

More from Sify: