Wednesday, June 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Front splits as SP supports Kalam
Tribune News Service

Leaders of the Peoples Front
Leaders of the Peoples Front (left to right) CPI (M) General Secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet, former Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda,  Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav and CPI General Secretary A. B. Bardhan talk to the media after the first session of their meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday. — PTI photo

New Delhi, June 11
The recently formed non-Congress and non-BJP alliance, the People’s Front, faced its first major crisis today as it split over the issue of the presidential candidate with the Samajwadi Party declaring support for noted scientist A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and the Left parties expressing reservation over his candidature.

The NDA’s surprise choice of Dr Kalam as its nominee for the post of President has thrown the opposition into disarray with the Front comprising of the Left parties and Samajwadi Party getting divided and the Congress adopting a wait and watch approach over the issue.

The Congress Working Committee has authorised the party President Sonia Gandhi to decide on the issue in consultation with other opposition parties.

After two rounds of discussion, the PF meeting could not arrive at a consensus on the candidature of Dr Kalam. Serious differences have cropped up as the Samajwadi Party, which had propped up Dr Kalam for the country’s top post, remained firm on backing him. Mr Yadav had mentioned the name of Dr Kalam to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee as his choice for the country’s next President when the two had met last month.

The Left parties would meet tomorrow to announce their candidate for the post of President.

After the meeting, Mr Yadav said: “Differences have cropped up between People’s Front leaders on the issue. There is no unanimity in the Front on the issue.”

“Dr Kalam is a very good choice for President’s office. He is an able scientist, scholar and eminent person of great fame. He is not the candidate of the BJP, the RSS, the Shiv Sena, the Congress or the Samajwadi Party,” Mr Yadav said.

Coming out of the second round meeting of the Front, Mr Yadav admitted to newspersons here that the Front had failed to reach a consensus. “We have been saying that Dr Kalam is a good candidate for President’s post and we will support him.”

Mr Yadav, however, said the differences on Dr Kalam’s candidature would not have any effect on the morcha and it would “remain intact and our fight against communalism will continue”.

The Front comprises of the Left parties, the CPI, the CPM, the Forward Bloc and the Revolutionary Socialist Party, the Samajwadi Party and the Janata Dal (S).

CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan said the view of Samajwadi Party was different from the rest of People’s Front constituents.

Asked whether the Front had broken up, Mr Bardhan said, “We will tell you everything tomorrow.”

Earlier, after the meeting of the People’s Front held at the residence of CPM leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet, Mr Bardhan had told newspersons “Mr K.R. Narayanan is still our candidate”, while former Prime Minister and JD (Secular) leader H D Deve Gowda said the Front could not change its nominee like the BJP “every three hours”.

As the meeting of the Front was in progress, senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh drove to Mr Surjeet’s residence and left after a short discussion on the Presidential nominee.

Later, Mr Surjeet had a meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi at 10 Janpath which is her residence.

The Congress has also maintained that there was no question of its dumping Mr Narayanan in favour of Dr Kalam and it would firm up its decision only after the incumbent President indicated his mind.

Meanwhile, the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) extended a warm welcome to the candidature of Dr Kalam for the post of President and said the party favoured his unanimous election to the highest post of the land.

IUML supremo and Kerala State Unit President Syed Mohammad Ali Shihab Thangal in a statement said the party fully supported the NDA move to field Dr Kalam. He should be the consensus candidate and any election to the post should be avoided, Mr Thangal added.

In Chennai, Tamil Nadu State IUML President K M Kader Mohideen congratulated Prime Minister A B Vajpayee for selecting missile scientist as the NDA’s Presidential candidate.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Mohideen said by choosing a scientist for the top post, the constitutional provision of promoting a scientific temper in the country was exemplarily fulfilled.

Quoting Swami Vivekananda, he said: “The future glory of India lies in the blending of the vedantic brain with the Islamic body. Let the brain and the body of India unite in the choice of the President of India.”


Cong to decide on Kalam today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 11
President K R Narayanan today told the Congress that he would not seek a second term in office, even as the main Opposition party said it would tomorrow take a decision on whether to support the candidature of Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for the country’s top post.

Senior Congress leaders Manmohan Singh and Natwar Singh met Mr Narayanan this evening to know his response on the proposal to become the Opposition candidate in the presidential poll. Congress chief spokesman Jaipal Reddy said the President refused to enter the fray.

After meeting the President, Mr Manmohan Singh and Mr Natwar Singh came to the residence of Congress President Sonia Gandhi where senior party leaders were finalising the party’s strategy for the presidential poll.

They reported Mr Naraynan’s decision after which Ms Gandhi decided to convene a meeting of the CWC to finalise party’s response to the candidature of Mr Kalam who is the nominee of the NDA and also enjoys the backing of the NCP, Samajwadi Party, RJD, BSP and AIADMK. 


BJP flays PF stand on Kalam
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 11
The BJP today criticised the Peoples’ Front (PF) for its hesitation in supporting a capable and non-controversial candidate like A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for the post of President.

BJP spokesperson and General Secretary Maya Singh said Dr Kalam was probably the first-ever scientist to become a Head of State and it was strange that the Opposition, instead of instantly extending support, was delaying its decision.

In an another development, the party welcomed the government’s decision to partially remove restrictions on air space for Pakistani flights saying that the decision indicated that India would take further measures to normalise relations if Gen Musharraf’s assurances were practised on the ground.

“If history is any indicator, Pakistan has never kept its promise, be it the Tashkent agreement, Simla accord or the Lahore declaration,” she pointed out.

The government yesterday partially lifted the five-month-old air embargo on Pakistan by allowing its aircraft to overfly Indian air space.


Kalam right choice, say Jaya, Naidu

Hyderabad, June 11
TDP Supremo and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who played a leading role in the NDA zeroing in on eminent scientist A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as its presidential candidate, today appealed to the Congress, the Left and other parties to support Dr Kalam’s candidature at this “crucial juncture’’.

Talking to reporters soon after his arrival from New Delhi, Mr Naidu described Dr Kalam as the “nation’s pride’’ and the “best choice’’. Besides making an outstanding contribution in the field of Science and Technology, Dr Kalam was patriotic, simple, humble, and a non-political personality, he said.

At a time when the country was faced with a war-like situation, the choice of Dr Kalam would send the “right signals to the international community’’ as well as within the country, he added.

CHENNAI: Dravidar Kazhagam General Secretary K. Veeramani said “this will heal the wounds of minorities, who have been hurt by the violence in Gujarat and will enhance the country’s prestige in the international community.”

The AIADMK will extend its support to Dr Kalam, Jayalalithaa said. “It is a matter of great pride and happiness for the AIADMK that he belongs to Tamil Nadu.”

PATNA: RJD President Laloo Prasad Yadav said Dr Kalam was a “good choice” for the post of President but he was being “dumped” as a scientist by the NDA.

However, the RJD would go by the decision to be taken by the Opposition during the meeting likely to be held in New Delhi, Mr Laloo Yadav said. UNI, PTI


Narayanan not candidate

New Delhi, June 11
President K.R. Narayanan tonight declared that he is not a candidate for coming presidential elections.

A terse statement issued by the Rashtrapati Bhavan tonight said there had been media reports suggesting that President Narayanan may be a candidate for the Presidential elections. This is to clarify that he is not a candidate. UNI


Chances of Farooq as VP recede
Tribune News Service

Jammu, June 11
With the picking up of Mr A. P. J Abdul Kalam for the post of the President of India by the BJP-led NDA, the chances of the Kashmir Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, getting elected as Vice-President have been sealed.

Though Dr Abdullah was not the number one choice for the Vice-President’s post for the NDA, his name had figured in the recent weeks.

Sources said had there been unanimity over Mr Krishna Kant’s candidature for presidentship, Dr Abdullah would have been a favourite choice for the NDA. This way the NDA could ease out Dr Farooq from Jammu and Kashmir and get a chance to place the state under Governor’s rule, two months before the Assembly poll.

It would not have been possible for Dr Abdullah to emerge as a consensus candidate in case the dice had been cast in favour of Maharashtra Governor P.C. Alexander. It has been a practice that candidates from among minorities do not hold both the President’s and Vice-President’s seats.

During the past over two years, Dr Abdullah has been making his feelings known in public that he wished to be either the President or Vice-President of the country as he wanted a respite from being the Chief Minister of the trouble-torn state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Since his son Omar Abdullah is taking over as President of the NC within two weeks, the Chief Minister had planned to put the crown on his (Omar’s) head. This plan may not fructify in case Dr Kalam emerges as the consensus candidate for the post of President.

A section of the National Conference leaders have blamed the Congress for having blocked the entry of Dr Abdullah into the Vice-President’s lodge. These leaders said that had the Congress agreed to support Mr Krishna Kant, it would have become easy for Dr Abdullah to get elected as Vice-President.

They suspected that the Congress leaders possibly were under the impression that their party could do well in the next Assembly poll in Jammu and Kashmir provided Dr Abdullah remained the Chief Minister. The NC leaders said that in case Dr Abdullah failed to get elected as Vice-President it would be a boon for the National Conference because he still had the charisma to carry the voters with him.


Presidential poll process set in motion
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 11
The process of electing a successor to President K.R. Narayanan, who will demit office on July 24, was set in motion with the Election Commission issuing a notification today.

According to the poll schedule issued by the commission, the last date for filing nominations will be June 25 and scrutiny will take place the following day.

While the last date for the withdrawal of candidatures will be June 28, election, if necessary, will be held on July 15.

The election will be held “in terms of Clause (1) of Article 62 of the Constitution. 

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