We'll strive for non-Congress consensus on a ‘worthy' candidate
Having ruffled the feathers of several NDA constituents with its unilateral comments on the Presidential nominee, the BJP has now chosen to be cautious.
In his inaugural address to the BJP national executive here on Thursday, party president Nitin Gadkari said any attempt by the Congress to foist a Presidential candidate ‘loyal' to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty on the nation must not be allowed and his party would strive to create a broad consensus among all non-Congress parties on fielding a ‘worthy' candidate.
The April 30 remarks by Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj, that the BJP would not support the candidature of Pranab Mukherjee as he is a Congress leader and of Vice-President Hamid Ansari as he lacked the ‘stature' for the post, were resented by several parties in the NDA.
Ever since the controversy broke, the BJP has gone silent on the Presidential election and maintained that the NDA would take a collective view on it. No date has, however, been fixed for an NDA meet yet. Maintaining that the Congress' chief criterion for selecting its candidate appeared to be loyalty to the dynasty, and not loyalty to the Constitution, Mr. Gadkari said the BJP, along with other non-Congress parties, would aim to field a nominee who could, besides safeguarding the Constitution, add lustre to the highest office of the Republic.
In response to questions, party spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad, who briefed the media, said it would be unfair to expect the BJP to reveal its strategy when the Congress was yet to declare its choice.
Asked how the BJP could presume that the Congress preference would be for a ‘loyalist to the dynasty', Mr. Prasad said there was enough ‘empirical evidence' to prove the point.
He argued that Manmohan Singh was chosen for Prime Minister on the criterion of loyalty and ‘better candidates' were ignored.
There is no clarity yet on what the BJP's position will be if Mr. Mukherjee is the UPA's Presidential choice. “We are 100 per cent sure that Mr. Mukherjee would not get the nod. By chance if he is named, we would see what could be done,” a senior leader told The Hindu.
Just as it devalued other democratic institutions, it sought to devalue the office of Rashtrapati. It must not be allowed to succeed this time, he said.
Today's dynastic and corrupt Congress was the chief obstacle to India's attainment of its full potential for growth and development. For this, it was necessary, first and foremost, to dislodge the Congress.