As Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and her Orissa counterpart Naveen Patnaik continued their efforts to rope in parties to support former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangmas candidature for president,the Samajwadi Party indicated it remains cold to the idea.
Why would we support Sangma? We are waiting for a word from the UPA. We will make up our mind after that, a senior SP leader said here today.
SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav is likely to meet UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi shortly to discuss the issue. Sangma had earlier met Mulayam,but the latter was said to have remained non-committal,only maintaining that the SP will support a political nominee.
While the names of Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee are also doing the rounds as UPA candidate,as reported by The Indian Express on Saturday,Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has indicated to the Congress leadership that she is not inclined to support either of them. She had met Sonia in this connection early this month.
Instead,Mamata today strongly backed Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar. If you ask my partys choice or the personal choice,then Ill say,I love Meira Kumar. She is a soft-spoken lady from Scheduled Caste background… I will be very happy to see Meira Kumar or Gopal Gandhi or even A P J Abdul Kalam (as president)… These three names are better, the Trinamool Congress chief told CNN IBN.
Asked about Mukherjees candidature,Mamata said: If it (the Congress) allows him,who am I to oppose it? It depends on majority. It is a democratic country. He is Finance Minister… for Pranab Mukherjee I am very much sincere. About this I am very much serious. Its Congress partys decision… We cannot say. I cannot interfere in the Congress partys business.
She added: Is he the son of Bengal? He may be the son of world.
With Jayalalithaa approaching the NDA to push Sangmas case,the alliance today morning held an informal meeting at Advanis office in Parliament where presidential elections were discussed. Sources said the NDA wont open its cards yet and will wait for the UPA to declare its candidate. A formal meeting of the NDA is expected to be convened in the first week of June to discuss the issue.
Advani also briefed the leaders present about his phone conversation with the AIADMK chief. He is believed to have conveyed that while he did not have any personal issues with Sangma,he could not say anything till the NDA took a collective view. Besides senior BJP leaders,the meeting was also attended by JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav and Anil Desai of the Shiv Sena.
In Bhubaneswar,Naveen Patnaik called Sangma a distinguished tribal leader. My party supports it that a tribal leader for the first time in the history of our Republic be the seniormost person of India, he said,adding that a quarter of Orissas population was tribal.
According to Patnaik,his party had first named Sangma for the post and that,within hours,he had got the support of Jayalalithaa. He also claimed that his father,the late Biju Patnaik,had close ties with Sangma.