New Delhi: Differences appeared to have cropped up in the NDA over the Presidential election with JD(U) saying that the BJP's stand on the contest was not its view. NDA Convener and JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said that his party doesn't endorse BJP leader Sushma Swaraj's dismissal of both Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari as Presidential candidate. "Whatever Sushma Swaraj has said is the opinion of the BJP. This is not our party's view," Yadav said.
Swaraj had also said that the party was open to the idea of backing former President APJ Abdul Kalam if parties like Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress and NCP mooted his name.
Yadav said the NDA has not discussed any name for the Presidential candidate. "Whenever such a discussion takes place, the JD(U) will express its views. But, she (Swaraj) has given the opinion of her party," he said. The JD(U) has not discussed any probable candidates for the Presidential elections yet, Yadav said adding that the party will form an opinion after having internal discussions. Sources in JD(U) said that the unilateral announcement by Swaraj has foreclosed options of building a consensus on the issue.
However, the BJP on Monday made it clear that there was no rift within the NDA. "The opinion of Sushma Swaraj on Presidential candidate is the opinion of BJP and not the NDA. There is not rift whatsoever between the BJP and the JD(U). Both Sushma Swaraj and Sharad Yadav said that so far no discussion has taken place on the NDA platform," BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.
Another NDA ally, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has also not made its intentions clear on the issue. "It is too early to comment on this. We have not taken decision on the name of candidate. No formal meeting of NDA took place. I can't comment on who will be NDA candidate for President. The BJP have not conveyed officially on this issue. No official communication or proposal has come to us so far," Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said.
Sources say that the Left parties don't have objections to Pranab Mukherjee's name but that has to be first proposed by the Congress. CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat said that the Left parties were holding informal discussions with some parties and favoured evolving a consensus on the name of a Presidential nominee.
The Left parties, which would initiate deliberations among themselves on the presidential election on Friday, are clear that they would not support former President APJ Abdul Kalam whom they had opposed earlier too.
Confirming the meeting, CPI National Secretary D Raja said the four parties would meet on May 4 and hold "preliminary consultations" on the matter. "This will be the first occasion when we meet to discuss this issue," he said.
Samajwadi Party leader Kamal Farooqi said his party was in favour of a Muslim candidate occupying the post of the President but maintained that it was against "communalising" the elections for the constitutional office.
Farooqi also said that parties like SP, BSP and Trinamool Congress can have a consensus in supporting a presidential candidate but added that the idea was not to isolate the UPA.
He said that names of Vice President Hamid Ansari, former Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan and Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi were making the rounds. Farooqi said that party favoured the names of Ansari, Khan and Quraishi terming them as "able" people who have proved themselves in their respective fields.
(With additional inputs from PTI)