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Presidential Poll
Mayawati goes UPA way
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 12
Bahujan Samaj Party president and UP Chief Minister Mayawati said today that she had reached an understanding with Congress president Sonia Gandhi regarding the UPA candidate for the presidential election. The BSP chief said a common understanding was reached following discussions over some names at the dinner meeting yesterday at her residence. “We had detailed discussions in which some names were discussed and a common understanding was reached,” she said.

Mayawati, whose party is supporting the UPA government from outside, said the name of the candidate would be announced “soon” by Gandhi, who is also the chairperson of the UPA.

Remarks of the BSP chief, coming hours before today’s meeting of Left parties on the presidential election, highlighted the driver’s seat role that she sees for her party in the elections. Mincing no words in asserting the value of BSP vote in the elections, she said all eyes were on her party, which had a decisive role.

“Since we have a crucial role, I decided to open my cards after due deliberations,” Mayawati said, adding that she had been authorised by her party to take a decision.

She said there was no question of supporting a candidate from the NDA as her party was against “communal forces”. Volunteering to give an explanation for her joining hands with the BJP in UP to form governments in the past, she said it had been forced by circumstances created by hung verdict as people of the state did not want frequent elections. “However, we did not compromise on our principles,” she said.

Replying to queries, Mayawati said her party had not put any conditions regarding the presidential nominee, nor had it staked claim to the post of vice-president. “We want the candidate backed by the NDA to be defeated,” she said. Asked if there was a possibility of her party supporting Bhairon Singh Shekhawat if he contested as an independent, the BSP chief said an understanding had already been reached on the candidate and there was no further possibility.

Source said among the names discussed at the meeting were of home minister Shivraj Patil, who is considered frontrunner among the UPA candidates, and AICC treasurer Motilal Vora, who was the UP Governor when Mayawati became the Chief Minister for the first time.

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Left parties to decide today
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 12
Even as home minister Shivraj Patil emerged as the front-runner for the presidential poll, there was lukewarm response to his candidature from the Left parties, crucial allies of the UPA, who plan to meet the DMK supremo M.Karunanidhi tomorrow to take the final decision on the nominee suggested by the ruling coalition.

“The UPA had suggested several names including defence minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister Shivraj Patil and human resources minister Arjun Singh. We felt that Pranab was the best amongst them. Patil’s name was not even considered by us earlier. We continue to hold that stand,” said D.Biswas, general secretary of the All-India Forward Bloc, after the meeting of four Left parties in the Capital.

The CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said the Left parties would meet the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK supremo Karunanidhi tomorrow to finalise the stand on the presidential candidate.

“We also plan to meet the UPA and non-UPA parties tomorrow to take a final stand on the presidential candidate tomorrow,” he said.

Karat’s assertion comes a day after Congress president Sonia Gandhi met the BSP supremo Mayawati over dinner and reportedly arrived at a consensus on the presidential candidate.

CPM leader said individuals were not discussed in their meeting, but said there was no change in the Left parties’ stand on who should make for an ideal president. The Left parties have been saying that their ideal candidate would be a political personality with secular credentials well versed in the Constitution and procedures.

Party sources indicated that Left parties were not too comfortable with the candidature of Patil as they wondered how effective he would be as a constitutional head, where he would have to take significant decisions on matters of Constitution.

A section of Left leaders pointed doubts on his secular credentials and accused him for his “soft Hindutva” stance. Communists have been laying significant emphaisis on the secular credentials of the candidate and this could go against Patil’s candidature.

Asked whether the Left leaders have been successful in winning over the “third-front” formed by TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu, as they hold about one lakh votes in the electoral college of about 10 lakh votes, the CPM general secretary said “I have been touch with him”.

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Sonia meets party leaders
NDA meeting today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 12
With the Left parties yet to take a final decision on the UPA's candidate for the presidential election, Congress president Sonia Gandhi met senior party leaders this evening to discuss the progress in talks with allies and partners to evolve a consensus on the name of their nominee.

Sonia Gandhi held consultations with external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, defence minister A.K. Antony and political secretary to Congress president Ahmed Patel amid indications of a contest with the Opposition. The Congress leaders also discussed their preparations regarding the election.

Party sources said that the name of the UPA candidate would be announced only after the notification for the presidential election was issued by the Election Commission. Home minister Shivraj Patil continues to be the front-runner among the candidates. Even as it is finalising the name of the presidential candidate, the Congress has begun exploring the possibility of the post of Vice-President also going to it. Sources said the name of former union minister Mohsina Kidwai is doing the rounds as a possible candidate.

Sonia Gandhi is expected to meet top Left leaders in the next few days to finalise the candidate. The Left parties have already conveyed their intention to meet Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi and some other UPA parties before taking a final stand.

Amid signs of a contest building up, leaders of the National Democratic Alliance will meet tomorrow to finalise their stand regarding the election. The NDA had earlier talked of a consensus on the presidential nominee. There are indications that Vice-President Bharion Singh Shekhawat would contest the election as an independent with backing from the NDA and some other non-UPA parties.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar today refused to answer questions on the candidature of Shekhawat, saying that a meeting is taking place tomorrow.

Asked to react on BSP chief and UP Chief Minister Mayawati's announcement about support to the UPA, Javadekar said all parties had freedom to take their own decision on the issue. Refusing to comment on reports that the Shiv Sena could support Patil if he contests, he said the party would attend tomorrow's NDA meeting.

The Left parties today said they would meet DMK chief M.Karunanidhi and some other UPA parties before taking a final decision on the presidential poll.

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