New Delhi: There seems to be apparent division between the BJP and the NDA. At the meeting held at acting chairman of NDA L.K.Advani on Sunday morning and which lasted for two hours, it was felt that there was need for wider consultation with chief ministers and with other party leaders. NDA convenor Sharad Yadav briefing reporters outside Advani’s residence on Sunday afternoon said that everyone put forward their views at length. He said right decision will be taken after further deliberations.
Yadav said, “vistaar se logon ne apni ray rakhi (People have put their views at length)” and assured that “sahi faisla (right decision)”will be taken after “vichaar, vimarsh (deliberation and consultation)”. The inference from Yadav’s brief statement was that the NDA could not arrive at a consensus as to what to do with the presidential election which had Pranab Mukherjee as a contestant. It seemed that NDA was finding it difficult to decide whether to support or oppose Mukherjee.
But BJP sources speaking on condition of anonymity were more sanguine and declared that the presidential contest is not over. They were unhappy over the fact that the channels were presenting news about the presidential election as though UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee is already a winner. They claimed that Mukherjee, whatever his friendly personal equations will leaders and members of all political parties, will not get a walk over and that he will have to fight the presidential election.
Asked whether the BJP top brass held Mukherjee in high esteem and therefore they have soft corner for him, the sources argued that the regard was at a personal level and this was inevitable. He was quite approachable and he was friendly. But personal equations will not come in the way of political equations, and the party was opposed to Mukherjee and the Congress.
The party also rejects that Mukherjee’s nomination has really placed the BJP and NDA in an awkward position. “We have to look at the election of 2014 and not at Mr Mukherjee in 2012,” said one of the sources. After the preliminary NDA meeting on June 15, Mr Advani sounded quite cheerful. After the BJP core committee meeting on Saturday evening, BJP leader Ananth Kumar said that the final decision will be taken on Sunday morning. On Sunday, Yadav indicated that there is more work to be done before the final decision can be made.
The BJP sources have conceded that it may be necessary to revise the stance on former Lok Sabha speaker P.A.Sangma’s candidature. He is the only man standing up to fight the election so far though it is learnt that there is tremendous pressure, especially from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and its leader Sharad Pawar. Sangma is a member of the NCP.
What counts for the BJP about Sangma’s candidature is the fact that he is fighting as an independent and not as a nominee of any party. BJP sources reminded that Bhairon Sinh Shekhawat fought the 2007 presidential election against Pratibha Patil as an indepdendent with the backing of NDA. BJP seems to think that with an independent candidate it is possible to poach votes from the other parties.