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Barnala in race for V-P’s post
Badal backs, Karunanidhi lobbies for him
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Surjit Singh BarnalaChandigarh, June 15
Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor of Tamil Nadu, has emerged as one of the candidates for the office of the Vice President of India.

Sources today confirmed that the DMK chief and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M. Karunanidhi, has been lobbying for Barnala for the past some days in this regard.

Sources said Karunanidhi had discussed Barnala’s name for the post of Vice President with the leaders of left parties during his visit to Delhi on June 13.

A senior leader of the DMK on behalf of Karunanidhi had also talked to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for making Barnala as candidate.

It is learnt that Badal, who is in Delhi today, has supported the move. He is scheduled to meet senior leaders of the BJP and other parties which are associated with the National Democratic Alliance.

Karunanidhi holds Barnala in a high esteem and has a good personal rapport with the Governor. Karunanidhi and Barnala had become friends in 1990 when the latter took a moral stand and resigned from the Governorship of Tamil Nadu.

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Prez: NDA gears up for contest
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 15
The National Democratic Alliance today took stock of the ground situation in the wake of the UPA's announcement yesterday that Rajasthan Governor Pratibha Devi Singh Patil was its presidential candidate.

Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav today called on former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the two leaders felt that the contest had become inevitable in the light of UPA announcing its candidate without even attempting a consensus.

Yadav is understood to have assured Vajpayee that the JD (U) would be party to any consensus decision of the NDA on fielding or supporting its nominee on June 18. The NDA had earlier authorised the former Prime Minister to hold talks with whosoever necessary for fielding a candidate for the post of President.

With this, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who has been positioning himself as an independent nominee to secure votes from the third front, may be NDA’s choice.

Vajpayee also told Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last night, when they called him seeking his support for the UPA's presidential nominee, that their call was 'too late' for the NDA to change its mind. They should have called before the actual announcement.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar today issued an appeal in favour of Shekhawat saying "I wholeheartedly and without reservation endorse/propose the election of Bhairon Singh Shekhawat as out next President".

The NDA leadership is little worried over reports coming from Mumbai that Shiv Sena may vote for the UPA candidate on the grounds of "Maratha pride", sources said adding that a BJP leader has been entrusted with the task of ensuring that Shiv Sena supremo was persuaded to remain in the NDA camp.

Meanwhile, the NDA is working on a strategy to ensure Bhairon Singh Shekhawat's victory. Not only that the NDA would try to evolve an understanding with the newly constituted Third Front but it would also focus on second preference votes. All those who have given their first preference vote for the UPA candidate would be requested to cast their second preference vote for the Vice-President.

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Prez poll
Sena to decide on June 19
Tribune News Service & PTI

Mumbai, June 15
Amidst indications of the Shiv Sena not being averse to the candidature of UPA-Left Presidential nominee Pratibha Patil, the saffron party, a key constituent of the NDA, said tonight it would announce on June 19 whom to support in next month’s Presidential poll.

The Sena’s top brass discussed the issue here for two hours, after which Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut told PTI that party chief Balasaheb Thackeray would announce the decision on June 19, which also happens to be the party’s foundation day.

“Since he will speak, there is nothing for me to add,” Raut said.

Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena mouthpiece 'Saamna' already made it clear that it would support the candidature of Patil, who is the first Maharashtrian and a woman to be elected President.

The party which was opposed to the choice of Home Minister Shivraj Patil, another Maharashtrian, was singing a different tune today.

“Pratibhatai is a Maharashtrian and a woman and she should receive our full support,” the paper said.

The BJP has already decided to oppose her candidature and its leaders are trying to make Thackeray change his mind about Pratibha Patil, sources said.

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