Snubbed by its second largest ally JD(U),the BJP on Wednesday decided to clam up on the presidential election,saying it would come out with a definitive view on a possible presidential candidate only after a meeting of the NDA soon.
The BJPs stand followed a meeting between Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav,ostensibly to pacify him after he expressed outrage over her strong remarks against Hamid Ansari and made it plain that JD(U) did not share the views. Swarajs bid to reach out to Yadav came after senior leader L K Advani reportedly expressed the view at a meeting that NDA should not appear to be divided on the presidential candidate issue.
There is nothing to add now. Whatever has been said,was said in the last two days. Whatever JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav has said is the latest position. Any collective stand will be made known after a meeting of the NDA, party spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.
The BJPs attempt at damage control was also evident when party chief Nitin Gadkari separately told a press conference in Indore that talks would be held with NDA leaders individually as well as collectively before finalising names of the candidates for the post of President and Vice-President.
He also said that attempts would be made to reach out to UPA allies on the issue. Interestingly,Railway Minister Mukul Roy,a trusted lieutenant of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee,met Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley. Though the meeting was said to be on demand for grants to the railway ministry,its political significance was not lost.
Differences in the NDA had surfaced after Swaraj said the BJP would oppose any Congress move to name Pranab Mukherjee or Hamid Ansari as a candidate. Yadav,who is also NDA convenor,objected,saying those were only BJPs views and not that of the opposition alliance as the matter was yet to be discussed within the NDA.
JD(U) feels Swarajs comments against Ansari would put the party in a spot in Bihar,especially since RJD backed his candidature and could project it as NDAs anti-minority stance.