Sharad Yadav declines NDA’s offer to contest

The National Democratic Alliance has named senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh its vice-presidential candidate to take on the UPA nominee, Hamid Ansari.

On the face of it, the contest will be symbolic as the UPA has more than the required number in the Electoral College of 790 MPs to ensure a second term for Mr. Ansari.

The decision came after NDA convener and Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav turned down the offer, telling the NDA leaders that his candidature would hinder his role in “active politics.” It appears that the BJP wanted Mr. Yadav to contest, as the party did not want a repeat of the situation it faced in the presidential election, with the JD(U) and the Shiv Sena deciding to back UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee.

While the NDA has reasons to be relieved that its constituents are together on the vice-presidential election, it will be a bonus for the alliance if it succeeds in roping in parties such as the AIADMK and others that are not part of the UPA.

Sources in the BJP said senior party leaders are holding consultations with several parties, including UPA ally Trinamool Congress, which is yet to announce its stand on the vice-presidential election.

NDA working president L.K. Advani told journalists after a meeting of the coalition: “Sharad Yadav’s name had come up in the public domain as a possible candidate. Sushma Swaraj had talked to him day before yesterday [Saturday] and requested him to consider [contesting the election]. But he replied that his nature did not permit it, as he was engaged in active politics, and this post would hamper it.

“We have decided not to give them [the Congress-led UPA] a walkover...,” Mr. Advani said.

He said the NDA was opposing Mr. Ansari’s nomination for his “conduct,” abruptly adjourning the Rajya Sabha during the debate on the Lokpal Bill.

Soon after his nomination, Mr. Jaswant Singh, 74, said: “This particular election of President and Vice-President goes beyond numbers.” He said he would reach out to non-NDA parties. “I will talk to all non-NDA parties for support. I will talk to [Trinamool Congress chief] Mamata Banerjee also.”

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