He has all qualifications to become President, she tells national leaders
Even though his own Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has remained lukewarm in pitching him into the presidential race, Purno A. Sangma's candidature for the country's top post got a shot in the arm as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) general secretary Jayalalithaa on Sunday intensified her campaign to drum up support for the former Lok Sabha Speaker.
The AIADMK chief got in touch with a number of national leaders to seek support for Mr. Sangma. She spoke on the phone to senior BJP leader L.K. Advani; Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat; senior CPI leader A.B. Bardhan; Telugu Desam Party president Chandrababu Naidu; Samajwadi Party chief and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh and Shiromani Akali Dal leader and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
The AIADMK leader told them that Mr. Sangma, a tribal leader and hailing from the northeast, had all the qualifications to become the President, according to a release issued by the AIADMK.
This followed her appeal on Friday to all parties to rise above political considerations and support Mr. Sangma.
On Thursday, Ms. Jayalalithaa and her Odisha counterpart and Biju Janata Dal leader, Naveen Patnaik, announced their decision to back the former Speaker for the top post. On Tuesday, Mr. Sangma called on the AIADMK leader in Chennai.
In Tiruchi, Lok Jan Shakti Party president and former Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan indicated that his party would support the UPA-backed candidate.
“I met Congress president Sonia Gandhi a few days ago and conveyed to her that we would support the UPA decision,” he told reporters on Sunday.
Responding to a query on his party's position on the candidature of Mr. Sangma, Mr. Paswan replied that “so many names are coming up. We are not opposed to anybody, as all are our friends.”
Along the same lines, Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati said the picture on the presidential election, scheduled for July, was not clear as neither the UPA nor the NDA had announced their nominees.
On Friday, NCP chief and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said his party's stand would be consistent with that of the UPA. Mr. Sangma, who had met Mr. Pawar the same day, said the NCP leader had told him that the party was part of the UPA and his stand on the issue would be consistent with it.
Mr. Sangma, 64, has said that he is part of a forum which is pushing for a tribal leader to become the next President.
The NCP, a key UPA ally since 2004, on Thursday virtually brushed aside the efforts of Mr. Sangma to enter the presidential race.
Even as Mr. Sangma continues to lobby hard with tribal legislators, the Congress has said that he lacks both the “political and ethical stature expected of the nation's Rashtrapati.”