The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appears to have suffered a major setback at the hands of its own allies, as it failed to win alliance partners’ support for its decision to back former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma for the post of President.
The Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and Shiv Sena, partners of BJP in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), will back the ruling United Progressive Alliance’s nominee Pranab Mukherjee in the July 19 Presidential election.
Having failed to reach a consensus within NDA on a Presidential candidate, BJP leaders on Thursday expressed unhappiness over the decision of the JD(U) and Shiv Sena.
Though it tried to persuade both parties to change their decision, leaders of JD(U) and Shiv Sena clarified they would not withdraw the support extended to Mukherjee.
“The UPA didn’t have prior consultations with us. We were only informed of the decision and asked to fall in line,” said Arun Jaitley, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
“We decided not to fall in line. The idea of election is integral to democracy, it is not alien. It is against democracy not to contest,” he added, explaining BJP’s decision to support Sangma.
BJP said the decision of JD(U) and Shiv Sena would not weaken NDA, and the two parties had “only differed on one issue”, but the alliance was still together.
Senior leaders of BJP admitted a section of party members had wanted to support Mukherjee initially, but changed their decision later. BJP has the support of 23 percent of electorates, and the party wants to reassert its character as the principal opposition party, they said.
|P A SANGMA'S POLITICAL CAREER
- 1975-80 General Secretary of the Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee
- 1977 Elected to the Lok Sabha on a Congress ticket from the Tura constituency
- 1980 Inducted into the Union Cabinet as deputy minister in charge of industry, later deputy minister of industry. Joint Secretary of the All India Congress Committee
- 1984 In Rajiv Gandhi’s cabinet, he was minister of state holding charge of commerce and supply
- 1986 Independent charge as Minister of State for Labour
- 1988-1990 CM of Meghalaya
- 1991 In Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao’s Cabinet, he had Independent charge of the Ministry of Coal
- 1995-96 Union Cabinet Minister of Information and Broadcasting
- May 1996 to March 1998 Unanimously elected as the Speaker of the 11th Lok Sabha
- May 1999 Expelled from the Congress along with Sharad Pawar and Tariq Anwar. Formed the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)
- 2004 Split from the NCP and joined the Trinamool Congress
- 2006 Resigned from TMC and re-elected to the Lok Sabha on NCP ticket
- 2008 Resigned from the Lok Sabha and contested the Meghalaya Assembly election
- May 20, 2012 Resigned from the NCP to contest the Presidential election 2012
Source: Agencies and websites
“When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had called L K Advani to convey UPA had decided to project Pranab Mukherjee, Advani told him UPA was only informing us and didn’t choose to hold prior consultation,” said Sushma Swaraj, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha.
She said NDA partners had twice held detailed discussions to convince the members not to support Mukherjee, but the efforts failed.
“We had to decide between former president A P J Abdul Kalam and Sangma. Since Kalam didn’t want to contest, BJP decided to support Sangma, whose name was proposed by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik,” Swaraj added.
Soon after BJP announced its support for Sangma, JD(U) came out openly in support of Mukherjee.
“Our party is against any contest now. Till the time Kalam was the candidate, we were ready for a contest. We are not supporting a Congress candidate. Under the present circumstances, we are supporting a UPA candidate for whom there is a consensus,” said Sharad Yadav, NDA convener and JD(U) chief.