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Updated: April 30, 2012 12:00 IST

As race for President begins, Antony meets Karunanidhi

Special Correspondent
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FRUITFUL MEETING: Defence Minister A.K. Antony calling on DMK president M. Karunanidhi at his CIT Colony residence in Chennai on Sunday. Photo: R. Ragu
The Hindu FRUITFUL MEETING: Defence Minister A.K. Antony calling on DMK president M. Karunanidhi at his CIT Colony residence in Chennai on Sunday. Photo: R. Ragu

Names of presidential candidates still unclear; discussion fruitful, says Antony

As part of the efforts of the Congress to evolve a consensus among its allies over a presidential candidate, senior party leader and Defence Minister A.K. Antony called on Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president M. Karunanidhi here on Sunday.

Mr. Antony said he had a “fruitful discussion” with the “senior-most leader of the country and a valuable ally of the Congress,” but refused to reveal what transpired at the nearly 90-minute meeting.

“Soniaji [Congress president Sonia Gandhi] asked me to meet Karunanidhiji to discuss the political situation. We had a detailed discussion about the present situation. What was discussed I will tell her,” Mr. Antony told the media after the meeting.

The former Union Minister, T.R. Baalu, and DMK MP Kanimozhi were present when the meeting took place at Mr. Karunanidhi’s CIT Colony residence. The DMK has 18 Lok Sabha MPs, seven Rajya Sabha MPs and 23 MLAs.

One-on-one meeting

Later, DMK organising secretary T.K.S. Elangovan said it was a one-on-one meeting and no details were available about candidates whose names were under consideration.

DMK sources, however, said the Congress-led UPA, which did not have adequate strength to ensure its candidate’s victory on its own, was under compulsion to keep in good humour not only its allies, but also political parties such as the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Speculation

“A Muslim candidate can be acceptable to both the SP and the BSP, and the Congress can think about fielding Vice-President Hamid Ansari,” a senior DMK leader said. However, the fact that it was Mr. Antony who called on Mr. Karunanidhi, instead of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who has in the past come to discuss major issues with the DMK leader, sparked speculation that Mr. Mukherjee himself could be a candidate under consideration.

DMK role

After the last presidential election, Mr. Karunanidhi claimed he had paved the way for the election of a woman as President for the first time. The DMK even organised a rally in Chennai to felicitate Pratibha Patil soon after her candidature was announced.

When A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was fielded as a candidate by the BJP government, the DMK was part of the alliance. At that time, DMK’s arch rival, the AIADMK, also supported Mr. Kalam. In 2007, the scientist’s name was proposed by some parties, but he did not join the fray, citing the lack of consensus on his candidature.

Let’s wait: Kalam

With speculation about his name being proposed again, Mr. Kalam has not revealed his mind yet. It is not clear if Mr. Kalam, who hails from Tamil Nadu and commands great respect here, will get the support of the parties in the State. Asked by reporters in New Delhi if he was willing to consider a second term, Mr. Kalam merely said: “Let us wait for some time. After some time, you ask me.”

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@merlin and biju - no one is perfect, but Kalam is by far the best
candidate among the proposed names.
@merlin - at least Kalam's speeches inspired many students to do great things, so spending crores (a complete exaggeration by the way) is far better than spending crores (no exaggeration) making trips all over the world for no reason.
@biju - contribution to national security through the production of rockets is paramount. Oh yes, peace is often secured through force!

from:  Hari
Posted on: May 1, 2012 at 03:06 IST

I completely agree with what Viswanath C has said (in the third
comment). There is no doubt about that, but at the same time I do
believe that it is better to have a scientist at the post of President
rather than someone like Pratibha Patil whose track record in the past
just does not make me believe as to why someone like her became a
President. I do understand that President has minimal political
powers/influences but still, the first citizen of the nation should be
someone well reputed and who (in my personal view) has nil or minimal
political involvement. So, that President may think about the nation
first and the party later !!

from:  ayushjn
Posted on: Apr 30, 2012 at 14:54 IST

I fully agree with the first commentator Merlin Franco. If Mr. Kalam becomes the president again that would be a 'national (kalam)ity'!!! His ultimate contribution (to the nation) is that he was part of the defence establishment that produced rockets!!! So let us, at all costs, avoid such a calamity being foisted on us!

from:  Biju Mathew
Posted on: Apr 30, 2012 at 13:06 IST

DMK MP Kanimozhi present at the meeting to discuss presidential candidate sends a wrong signal...DMK MP Kanimozhi who has served jail term & on bail...Mr Antony should Not have accepted her presence in the meeting

from:  rajdeep
Posted on: Apr 30, 2012 at 12:26 IST

Except some, all over honorable presidents were / are real rubber stamps, thanks to our awful political system !

from:  Viswanath C
Posted on: Apr 30, 2012 at 11:55 IST

A very genuine question comes to my mind ,"Is the top post of India reserved for Muslims and/or woman?" I hope...definitely not..fingers crossed for next president election !!

from:  Manoranjan
Posted on: Apr 30, 2012 at 10:08 IST

Please do not nominate Hon. Abdul Kalam as president again. We can't afford to spend crores of public money to inaugurate Deemed Universities and private colleges, simply to repeat an 'I have a dream' speech. Can we forget how he shielded Thiru. Vajpayee by refusing to make public the letters written by late Thiru. K.R. Narayanan during the Godhra riots. Indian can't have a pesudo-secularist as its president again.

from:  Merlin Franco
Posted on: Apr 30, 2012 at 07:31 IST

Someone who adds dignity to the post should be considered. Though the
president of India does not have much power constitutionally, we had
many presidents who earned great respect and admiration due to their
personal qualities and individuality. Mr.Kalam enjoys respect among all
sections of the society, especially the youth. He had proved his youthfulness in his first term as president. India needs Kalam for a
second term. A consensus should be made among the political parties for
this .

from:  Thalha Hussain
Posted on: Apr 30, 2012 at 06:52 IST

You often see Pranab Mukerji sent to Chennai to do such errands. This time it is AK
Andony go on such jobs. One can only infer that Pranab Mukerji is being considered
for the position of President. Though this seemingly unimpressive man may not
make a great impact on the world scene he would definitely do a better job than the
incumbent.

from:  P.N.Shreeniwas
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 23:12 IST
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