<p>Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders may have given positive indications to Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on her attempt to gather support for former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma, but its ally, the Janata Dal (U) is not ready to follow.
The JD(U) is an important part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Its leaders say both Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and Jayalalithaa, now pushing for Sangma, were initially supporting Gopalkrishna Gandhi, former Governor of West Bengal, for the top post and also spoken about his candidature to NDA leaders. More, JD(U) seniors say their preference was for either Vice President Hamid Ansari or Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee becoming the next President, rather than Sangma. “It is for the first time that P A Sangma is projecting himself as a tribal leader; he has never done it in the past. We believe there are other tribal leaders who are equally competent,” said a JD(U) leader.
While admitting NDA leaders had discussed the name of Sangma after Jayalalithaa spoke to BJP senior L K Advani, JD(U) sources said the alliance members had agreed not to speak on the issue till the time the ruling United Progressive Alliance revealed its mind.
“It was decided that NDA would not make public statements on the presidential election but senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj spoke on the issue and we lost the initiative. Now, we are waiting for the Congress party to suggest a candidate and only then will we give our views. The BJP leaders must have spoken among themselves; that is why Sushma Swaraj decided to speak on the issue,” said a senior leader of the NDA.
Although a section within the BJP wants to see a tribal leader from the northeast at the top post, the idea might get stalled if alliance partners will not agree to support Sangma.