Sunday, May 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

NDA leaves it to Vajpayee
Selection of presidential candidate
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 11
The NDA unanimously authorising Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to take a decision about the alliance’s presidential candidate in consultation with allies and Opposition parties.

Mr Vajpayee is now all set to sound the Opposition parties, particularly the Congress, on the issue when he meets Ms Sonia Gandhi sometime after the Budget session of Parliament ends on May 17, sources said.

While Mr Vajpayee has not yet decided on any name, Maharashtra Governor P.C. Alexander is a possible candidate, sources said, adding that it would have been better if the Opposition, particularly the Congress and the Left parties, had indicated its choice of candidate.

The ruling alliance was in no mood to go in for an election as the country was facing contentious issues, a senior NDA member said, adding that the issue would immediately be sorted out if the Congress and the Left came out openly for giving another term to President K.R. Narayanan.

But the issue of giving a second term had a risk as no former President, barring Dr Rajendra Prasad, had a second term. Even in case of Dr Prasad, the second term was agreed as he did not serve as a Vice-President. Thereafter, no other President served two terms though some former Presidents were keen to have another term, the sources said.

If the Congress and the other Opposition parties came out with support for Mr Narayanan then the ruling alliance would like to have its own Vice-President unopposed.

The arithmatic balance within the electoral college which elected the President was so precarious that neither the ruling NDA alliance nor the Opposition was in a position to push its own choice to the highest office.

In this background, the BJP high command had decided to follow a course which could help the NDA alliance have a Vice-President of its choice unopposed, the sources said adding that Vice President Krishan Kant was not finding favour with the ruling party.

Mr Kant, who was said to be keen to be promoted as the President, was understood to have sought the support of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. Mr Naidu met the Vice-President for an hour yesterday before he met Mr Vajpayee but the Andhra Pradesh strongman was keeping his cards close to his chest.

Mr Naidu declined to spell out his TDP’s stand on the presidential election, saying that he would do so “at the appropriate time”.

If Mr Narayanan was not to be given a second term then the next occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan had to be either from the north or east of the country, the sources said.

“The NDA requests the Prime Minister to discuss the issue with NDA partners and supporting parties like the TDP and the BSP,” NDA convener and Defence Minister George Fernandes told reporters.


TDP mum on presidential election
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 11
The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief, Mr Chandrababu Naidu, said today that his party would make its stand clear on the forthcoming Presidential election “at an appropriate time.”

“At the appropriate time we will tell,” Mr Naidu told newspersons after a meeting with the Union Home Minister, Mr L. K. Advani, here. The support of the TDP is crucial for the Vajpayee government to push through its candidate for the top most Constitutional position.

The TDP’s four-point demand following the Gujarat violence includes removal of Mr Modi.

Mr Naidu, who met the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, yesterday night, said he briefed Mr Advani on the initiative taken by the banned PWG for negotiations.

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