A phone call from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Saturday has forced the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to discuss the name of former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma for the forthcoming Presidential election.
Senior NDA leaders believe it is too early to even consider finalising a candidate for the Presidential election. However, some members have indicated the alliance partners are open to the idea of voting for a person of their liking, in case there is no consensus within the alliance partners.
While Sangma has already spoken to senior BJP leaders and is also planning to meet chief ministers of BJP and NDA to seek their support, old guards of the BJP, including
L K Advani, are more inclined to have a President from the north-eastern part of the country.
“Some of the NDA members had met over the issue, but there was no decision. Since
P A Sangma’s name is being discussed, we also spoke about it. NDA will open its cards only after the United Progressive Alliance decides on its candidate. We have so far not heard anything from the Congress,” said a senior leader.
Senior BJP leaders indicated the idea to support a candidate from the northeast was not new to the party, as they had supported former deputy Lok Sabha Speaker G G Swell in 1992, when he had contested the presidential election against former president Shanker Dayal Sharma. Swell was a prominent leader from Meghalaya.
Soon after Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, along with Jayalalithaa, announced his support for Sangma, the two chief ministers have been busy talking to senior leaders of various political parties to assess if there can be a consensus on the name of Sangma among non-Congress parties. Patnaik is expected to visit Delhi late tonight to try for a consensus on Sangma’s candidature.
BJD leaders indicated that while Patnaik was expected to launch a campaign in support of Sangma, Jayalalithaa will try to convince BJP leaders L K Advani and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to come in support of Sangma.
The former Lok Sabha speaker is also planning to meet some of the chief ministers belonging to the Congress-led UPA alliance, including West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, for their support.