M A I N   N E W S

Pranab vs Sangma for President’s post
Ex-Lok Sabha Speaker quits NCP
Anita Katyal/TNS

New Delhi, June 20
The July 19 Presidential election will witness a contest between Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma. Sangma, founder member of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), resigned from the party today. NCP chief Sharad Pawar has accepted his resignation.

The NCP, which is a constituent of the UPA and is backing Mukherjee’s candidature, was not happy with Sangma’s decision and had even warned him that he would face disciplinary action if he decided to contest the Presidential poll.

Sangma’s candidature had been proposed by AIADMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and BJD president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Sangma has now got the additional support of a divided NDA which was left with little option after former President APJ Abdul Kalam, who was its first choice, opted out of the race.

Janata Party President Subramaniam Swamy, who has been in constant touch with Sangma on behalf of the NDA, called on the former Lok Sabha Speaker this afternoon to convey the NDA’s support. It was after this verbal assurance that Sangma resigned from the NCP. Interestingly, it was Swamy who announced his resignation to the media. “Sangma had no option but to resign from the NCP. He has done so for self-respect. We are trying to build a consensus in his favour,” he said.

BJP leaders who met here at LK Advani’s residence this evening, decided that their decision will announced after tomorrow’s meeting of NDA allies.

However, the BJP-led NDA is not all on the same page on this issue.

Shiv Sena, the BJP’s closest ally, has already announced that it will back UPA candidate Mukherjee as it does not see any merit in forcing a token contest. Similarly, the Janata Dal (U) is also not in favour of backing Sangma and would prefer to pledge its support to Mukherjee.

It is learnt that JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav has conveyed as much to the BJP leadership. It was because of these internal differences that the last two meetings of NDA leaders had ended inconclusively.

In his resignation letter, Sangma stated that the Tribal Forum of India had projected his candidature for the Presidential election which had the backing of several political parties while his own party was disinclined to endorse his candidature.

“This amounts to denial of the aspirations of tribals of the country,” he said, adding that he had no option but to resign from the party.

In an effort to put up a credible fight, the BJP will not project Sangma as its own nominee but as an Independent candidate. By doing so, it hopes to win over parties like the Trinamool Congress and the Left Front, which would otherwise not like to be seen in the company of the NDA.

However, Mukherjee is well ahead of his opponent. Not only does he have the backing of the UPA constituents, except the Trinamool Congress, but he also has the support of the Samajwadi Party, the BSP, the Lok Janashakti Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal.

Battlelines drawn

  • Janata Party chief Subramaniam Swamy called on Sangma on Wednesday afternoon to convey the NDA’s support
  • It was after this verbal assurance that Sangma quit the NCP
  • Swamy announced Sangma’s resignation to the media
  • BJP won't project Sangma as its own nominee, but as an Independent candidate to win over the Trinamool and Left Front





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