New Delhi: NDA on 19 June favoured an all party consensus on a second term for President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam but made it clear that Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat will be in the fray as an independent in case there is a contest.
“He (Shekhawat) has paved the way for building a consensus on Kalam. The ball is now in the Congress’ court,” said NDA spokesperson Sushma Swaraj, who denied that the vice-president’s statement implied he could withdraw from the race in the event of an election.
The BJP leader claimed that the President himself had asked the NDA two months ago not to take any initiative for building a consensus on his name.
She said Kalam wanted that the Congress and the Left should rather make such a move first.
“In the absence of a consensus, Shekhawat will remain NDA-backed candidate. He is not nervous. He was, is and will remain in the fray,” Swaraj remarked.
At the same time, she said the NDA would act in accordance with the wishes of Shekhawat, who she pointed out was an independent candidate unlike Patil.
She described Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s appeal to alliance leaders to support UPA-Left presidential candidate Pratibha Patil as a sign of desperation and called Shekhawat’s last night statement a sign of statesmanship.
Swaraj said both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Gandhi were required to explain to the country what had been their “reservations” over Kalam.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, senior BJP leader L.K. Advani and other top leaders of the opposition alliance before issuing a statement in favour of Kalam.
“Now, we are asking for a response from the Congress,” she said.
She cited television surveys showing Kalam as the most preferred choice for the highest office.
Unease, however, has developed within the BJP over Shekhawat’s candidacy with some in the party privately admitting that chances of his success are bleak.
A senior BJP functionary, who requested not to be named, said Shekhawat himself was insistent on entering the presidential fray.
Trinamool favours Kalam’s second term
Kolkata: A day after newly-formed United National Progressive Alliance came out in support of a second term for Kalam, key NDA ally Trinamool Congress on 19 June said that he was the party’s first choice for the highest office.
“A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is our first choice for the post of President. When I attended a meeting of the NDA about a month back, I had said this,” Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said.
“We want a person like Abdul Kalam who is impartial and has a stature,” she said.
Banerjee, however, said that she did not have any talk with the newly-formed UNPA, a front of eight regional parties including AIADMK, TDP and SP, which supported the candidature of Kalam, on this issue.
“Even last time I had proposed the name of Kalam and this time also he is our first choice,” she said.
Asked if Trinamool Congress would support the candidature of Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, She said, “If Kalam contests the presidential poll, we will support him. Even Shekhawat had stated that he would be happy if consensus can be achieved on the candidature of incumbent A.P.J. Abdul Kalam”.
She, however, refused to say anything on who her party would support if A.P.J. Abdul Kalam declined to contest for the second term. “I will not say anything more on this now. Whatever I have to say I have said”.
Shekhawat had met the Trinamool Congress chief on 31 May during his visit to the city.
Banerjee had, however, described the visit as a courtesy call and said that they had not discussed the presidential election.
Jaya, UNPA leaders to meet Kalam on 20 June
Chennai: AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa, along with other leaders of the newly-formed United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA), will call on President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in New Delhi on 20 June to persuade him to contest the Presidential election for a second term.
Jayalalithaa would be going to Delhi on 20 June as the President had granted an appointment to UNPA leaders at 1530 hrs, an AIADMK press release here said.
The conclave of eight regional parties, which met at Jayalalithaa’s residence here on 18 June, decided to support Kalam for a second term and appealed to all political parties to sink their differences and support the incumbent President as he was the “only candidate who commanded respect from all sections.”
The leaders also decided to meet Kalam and personally persuade him to contest the election.
Besides the AIADMK, the Telugu Desam Party, Samajwadi Party, INLD, Assom Gana Parishad, Jharkand Vikas Morcha, MDMK and Kerala Congress(J) are part of the UNPA.
Manmohan meets Kalam
New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on 19 June during which the two leaders discussed issues of national importance.
During the 25-minute meeting, the Prime Minister briefed Kalam about his recent visit to Germany for the G-8 meeting, Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesman S.M. Khan said.
The two sides also discussed some issues about the rural development, he said.
There was no official word on whether the two discussed the Presidential election. The meeting came a day after the Third Front favoured second term for Kalam and with Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat endorsing the suggestion if there is political consensus.