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BJP may field Najma for vice-president

BS Reporter & Pti  |  New Delhi 

Engaged in what appears to be a lost battle for the presidential polls, the BJP plans to put up a fight for the vice-president's post and is considering fielding former Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson Najma Heptullah.
A senior BJP leader said the party was gearing up for the vice-president's election in the light of the Third Front's decision to field a candidate.
"If the UPA-Left and the Third Front field their candidates, we cannot sit and watch. We will have to put up a fight," the leader said.
Heptullah, a former Congress leader who switched loyalty to the BJP in 2004, was a likely choice, the leader said.
"Najma can be a choice, but there is no final decision yet. We will meet our allies later this week to discuss the issue," he added.
The BJP believes the ruling alliance may name someone staunchly opposed to it. Names of historian Irfan Habib and Jamia Milia Islamia Vice-Chancellor Mushirul Hasan are doing the rounds as possible UPA-Left candidates.
The choice of Heptullah will also help the BJP-led NDA neutralise the pro-women pitch of the Congress, which has named former Rajasthan governor Pratibha Patil as its nominee for president.
The chances that a Left academician may be the Left parties' choice for vice-president increased today with the CPI backing the CPI(M)'s remark that the candidate may "not necessarily be a full-time politician."
"We want the nominee to be a politically-minded but that it not mean he has to be attached to any party,'' Bardhan said.
Categorically ruling out that he or any other senior leader of the Left parties were being considered for job of vice-president, Bardhan said, "I am the general secretary of my party and that does not mean I will allow this post to be hijacked for a reserved post.''
Saying that the repeated mention of his name as a possible nominee was "embarrassing,'' Bardhan said, "There has been no consensus within the UPA on my or any other leader's name on the vice-presidential candidate.''

First Published: Mon, July 16 2007. 00:00 IST