New Delhi: Support seems to be growing for the UPA's Presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee. The JD(U) and Shiv Sena have broken ranks with the the NDA to back Pranab. The CPM too has decided to support Pranab, but two other Left parties will abstain from voting.
The NDA stands divided with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiromani Akali Dal announcing support for former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma.
NDA divided: BJP, SAD for Sangma; JD(U), Shiv Sena for Pranab
After almost a week long deliberations, the BJP on Thursday decided to support the candidature of PA Sangma. Its ally Shiromani Akali Dal also decided on the same lines. But two of the most crucial allies of the BJP " the Shiv Sena and the Janata Dal United (JD-U) " took a call to go against it and back Pranab Mukherjee.
Even before BJP could firm up position on either contest or consensus on the Presidential election, there were different voices with MPs like Maneka Gandhi pitching for Mukherjee and hailing him as an "excellent candidate". Gandhi said on Monday that the election of the President should be by a consensus three days before her party decided for a contest and backed Sangma after APJ Abdul Kalam withdrew from the race.
Left split: CPM backs Pranab; CPI to abstain from voting
On the other hand, the Left in its meeting failed to reach a consensus on the issue. While the CPM chose to back Pranab, the CPI decided against going with either of the candidates and to abstain from voting.
Pranab Mukherjee has also sought Puducherry Chief Minister and AINRC leader N Rangasamy's support for his candidature. Pranab contacted the Chief Minister over phone in the forenoon to seek support, official sources said, adding that Rangasamy responded positively.
NCP supports Pranab, Sangma's daughter skips meet
Sangma, a senior NCP leader who was earlier in Congress, chose to defy his party's appeal to withdraw from the race and resigned from the organisation instead.
As Sangma refused to listen to NCP boss Sharad Pawar, who was canvassing support for Pranab, the party was contemplating his dismissal.
A meeting of the NCP Parliamentary Board took place on Thursday evening to discuss the Presidential poll but Union Minister Agatha Sangma was conspicuous by her absence.
But party leaders scotched any speculation about the absence of Agatha, the daughter of PA Sangma who has entered the Presidential race after quitting the party.
Minutes before the start of the meeting, Agatha informed party chief Sharad Pawar that she would be unable to attend due to some "unavoidable reasons".
The NCP Parliamentary Board decided to instruct all the party MPs and MLAs to vote for UPA Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee, NCP General Secretary DP Tripathi said.
Trinamool Congress yet to clarify stand
The most dramatic turn of the events so far was Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee rejecting the Congress proposal for the names of Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari and coming out with three new names including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Sangma has now appealed to Mamata for support. However, her party says no decision yet. It now remains to be seen which way will Mamata go.
But with most of the parties going in favour of Pranab, the UPA's Presidential nominee seems to emerging as a clear winner in the race for the President's post.
(With additional information from PTI)