M A I N   N E W S

After Kalam, who?
Cong, Left await BSP stance
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 13
With the process of consultations having begun in the UPA for choosing a candidate for the presidential elections, both the Congress and Left parties are awaiting feelers from the BSP which is set to play a significant role in the choice of nominee for the highest constitutional office in the country.

The BSP, which has emerged strong after the Assembly elections in UP, has not opened its cards but Congress leaders believe that BSP leader Mayawati would go along with the UPA in the choice of the next candidate as the party is supporting the ruling coalition at the Centre from outside.

The Congress, which has the primary responsibility for forging a consensus within the UPA and its supporters on the presidential nominee, has begun the process of consultations, mostly at an informal level. As the party is keen to have its own nominee as the next President, it has to find a candidate who will be acceptable to the UPA partners and the BSP.

It remains to be seen if the Congress would reach out to the NDA to reach a broad consensus on the candidate. The Congress is believed to be considering names of external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, former union minister Karan Singh and power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde as possible nominees.

Though the Left parties are unlikely to push for having a nominee from their ranks, they have already indicated the attributes they were looking for in the prospective candidate.

CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said yesterday that the candidate should be a secular personality with thorough knowledge of the working of the constitution and should be able to garner the maximum support. The Left parties have also indicated their preference for a political person for the top post.

The BJP, which has been chastened by the result of the UP elections, does not seem to be in a hurry to join the presidential race. The party had earlier refuted reports that had quoted it, saying that a second term for incumbent President was against the convention.

The BJP-led NDA is likely to decide its response after the UPA finalises its nominee. The UP results have disturbed the NDA calculations of catching up with the UPA in terms of vote value for the presidential poll.



Presidential poll
DMK in no hurry to decide on strategy

Chennai, May 13
The DMK, a major constituent of the UPA government at the Centre, does not seem to be in a hurry to decide on its strategy for presidential polls, though Left parties have propped up the name of Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee for the top post.

"I will have to consult my party colleagues and take the opinion of alliance parties," DMK patriarch and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi told PTI in an interview when asked about the party's thinking on the Presidential polls.

The DMK has 96 MLAs, 15 Lok Sabha MPs and two Rajya Sabha MPs, who will be voting in the Presidential polls.

Asked whether A P J Abdul Kalam could be given a second term, Karunanidhi, who completes his one year in office tomorrow in his fifth stint as chief minister, said, "I do not want to comment on this before consulting party seniors".

He also did not foresee any change in the alliance pattern for the next Lok Sabha polls, scheduled for 2009. "I do not foresee any single problem in continuance of present alliance. The DMK feels quite comfortable," he said.

Commenting on his one year in office, Karunanidhi said he is satisfied with his government's performance.

"The biggest achievement in the first year is the implementation of 90 per cent of the promises in the DMK election manifesto for the assembly polls in 2006," he said.

Asked whether the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government would complete its full term, Karunanidhi replied in the affirmative. "There is no doubt about it," he said. PTI



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