Isolated within the NDA over forcing a contest against UPAs presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee,the BJP appears to be waiting for the outcomes of meetings of the NCP and Left before charting out it own strategy.
With former president A P J Abdul Kalam,who was being backed by the Trinamool Congress,pulling out of the race,the BJPs hopes of contest are apparently pinned on NCP leader P A Sangma,who has the backing of Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa.
But Sangma faces pressure from his party,which is a part of the UPA,to withdraw his candidature. NCP president Sharad Pawar,who has appealed to Sangma against contesting,has called a meeting of the partys office bearers on Thursday to discuss the presidential elections. Sangma,too,has been called for the meeting,which is likely to reiterate the NCPs stand of backing Mukherjee with clear directive of facing disciplinary action for failing to do so.
The Left parties are slated to hold a meeting on the same day to finalise their strategy. While a section of the Left,mostly from Bengal,are not keen at contesting against Mukherjee,a Bengali,the other section is against supporting a Congress candidate.
The BJP wants to use the presidential elections as an opportunity to widen the NDA umbrella by supporting Sangma,with an eye on the next Lok Sabha elections. However,NDA partner Shiv Sena has formally decided to back Mukherjee while the JD(U) is not in favour of a contest. Its other alliance partner,Akali Dal,has announced that it will abide by the NDA decision.
A section of the BJP points out that the NDA remained intact even when the Sena supported Pratibha Patil in 2007 for the top post to argue that the party can support the contest with tacit approval from NDA constituents,Sena and JD(U).
However,the BJP does not want to land in a situation where it announces its support to Sangma to get into the good books of two non-NDA parties,BJD and AIADMK but the former Lok Sabha Speaker pulls out under pressure from his party. On Monday,one of BJPs potential candidates Kalam pulled out despite requests from the NDA which sent Sudheendra Kulkarni and Subramanian Swamy to persuade him to contest. In this context,the BJP appears to be waiting for Sangmas final stance. The BJP may get a clear picture on his candidature after the NCP and Left meetings. The NDA is tentatively likely to meet either on Thursday or after that.