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Prez Poll: SP hints at abstention
Tribune News Service

Front to announce candidate today

Hyderabad, June 17
The Third Front will announce its future course of action and its candidate for the President election tomorrow, Telugu Desam Party President N. Chandrababu Naidu said today. — UNI

New Delhi, June 17
Samajwadi Party today sought to do a balancing act by adopting an equi-distance posture from both the UPA and the NDA and hinting at abstention as one of the possibility in the presidential elections while stating at the same time that Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat's stature was higher than that of the UPA's presidential candidate Pratibha Patil.

After a two-and-a-half hour meeting of the party, SP General Secretary Amar Singh said the party was formed not only to oppose communal forces but to wipe them away.

A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had consultations with Amar Singh seeking SP's support for the UPA-Left nominee Patil, the party national executive authorised party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav to take a final decision on the issue.

The sentiment of the meeting was against both, the UPA and the NDA. With only 1.10 lakh votes, we (Third Front) do not have strength to field a candidate on our own. But a decision whether to abstain or field a candidate will be taken at a front meeting in Chennai tomorrow, another party General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav told newspersons.

Asked if there was any possibility of supporting Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, he said several leaders spoke at length and expressed their mind on the issues and unanimously authorised Yadav to take a decision on the matter.

However, he made it clear that though Shekhawat's record as chairman of Rajya Sabha has been unbiased, his roots are in RSS. He has been BJP Chief Minister of Rajasthan. He became Vice-President of India as a BJP nominee.

Ram Gopal, the younger brother of Mulayam Singh, said: “We have neither compromised with communal forces and nor will we do so.”

The Third Front comprising parties like TDP, AIADMK is meeting in Chennai tomorrow to finalise their stand on the presidential election.

AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa has ruled out support to Congress candidate and had talked about two other options of either abstention or support to a candidate who has already expressed his intention to contest, issues that will come up for discussion at tomorrow's meeting.

Ram Gopal refused to comment on whether the party's national executive discussed any candidate for the top job.

Asked whether party general secretary Amar Singh's meeting with the Prime Minister yesterday had anything to do with any compromise, he said Samajwadi Party does not believe in such things.

To a pointed question on whether Mayawati's full support to Sonia Gandhi on the issue had anything to do with bargaining for her cases, he said the BSP chief and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati was successful in trading with the UPA leadership.

On AIADMK's opposition to the Congress candidate, Yadav said so far no decision has been taken on the issue. “We are meeting tomorrow at her residence in Chennai and will take a decision on the matter.”

On the candidature of UPA nominee, he said people came to know about her only a few days back. We respect her as she is governor of a state. But her stature is not so high as compared to Shekhawat.



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