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Presidential polls: Suggestions continue, parties keep mum

Tuesday April 24, 2012 05:21:37 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: The churning continues for the presidential polls with various political leaders suggesting candidates even as their parties seek to gauge the mood and keep their cards to themselves.

After Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar's suggestion for "an agreed" candidate in view of major political groupings not having the numbers to get their candidate through, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad Tuesday pitched for Vice President Hamid Ansari for the post.

Ansari's name has also been informally mentioned by some Congress leaders as a suitable choice though the party has not begun formal discussions on the choice of presidential candidate.

Pawar's comments had triggered speculation about former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam emerging as a possible choice. Samajwadi Party leader Shahid Siddiqui added to the speculation, stating that his party was not averse to Kalam's name if there was a consensus.

However, party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav Tuesday made it clear that discussion had not been held so far on the presidential nominee and termed Siddiqui's comments as his "personal opinion".

"We can't say anything... No talks have started till now and what is the hurry... there is lot of time for president election," Mulalyam Singh said.

Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati also spoke on the same lines, saying it was too early to comment.

"Let the candidate be decided first... Lets see who is the candidate, only after that we can comment," she said.

Apart from Ansari and Kalam, names doing the rounds as possible candidates include Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Congress MP Karan Singh and Speaker Meira Kumar.

Among the "apolitical" names doing the rounds are of technocrat Sam Pitroda and Infosys' N.R. Narayana Murthy.

Congress leaders said that "serious discussions" on the choice of candidate are likely to start after the budget session.

Party MP Satyavrat Chaturvedi told IANS that formal discussions had not started on the choice of presidential candidate.

"We would like to have an appropriate and effective president. We would like to see a consensus built around a suitable candidate," Chaturvedi said, adding talks will be held with allies and possibly the opposition also.

"Of course we will take our allies into confidence. As and when the necessity arises we shall explore other avenues," Chaturvedi added.

On the other hand, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has begun informal discussions on the presidential polls and the view emerging in the party is that it should not back "a very active Congressman" to the post.

BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad told IANS that informal discussions had started in the party on the choice of presidential candidate, but it was too early to comment.

A leader of BJP's ally Janata Dal-United (JD-U), who did not want to be quoted, said that it was for the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to come out with its stance.

Parties ruling states including Biju Janata Dal and AIADMK apart from SP are likely to have a crucial role in a decision on the presidential candidate as both the UPA and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) do not have majority to get their candidate through.

The UPA has a little over 40 percent of the total votes in the electoral college for presidential polls as against 57 percent it had in the last elections. The NDA has less than 30 percent.

The stance of Trinamool Congress will have a bearing on the choice of UPA candidate given that party leader Mamata Banerjee has differed with the Congress on several issues.

The Left parties are also yet to make known their stance on the presidential polls.





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