The BJP, which has been embarrassed by the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's decision not to contest the Presidential poll, received another jolt when one of its prominent MPs, Maneka Gandhi, called on UPA Presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee and congratulated him on his candidature.

In her remarks to the media on Monday, Ms. Gandhi was effusive on how Mr. Mukherjee would make an “excellent candidate.” She said she would make a strong pitch for a consensus on him.

Last week, Ms. Gandhi said the country needed a President like him. “He is a seasoned politician....I know him for the past 30 years. We need such a President, who will work.”

Earlier in the day, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav told reporters in Lucknow that the Kalam chapter was closed now and his party was supporting Mr. Mukherjee.

Meanwhile, the NCP, parent party of the former Speaker, P.A. Sangma, said it was confident that he would opt out of the contest and support Mr. Mukherjee.

“We have full faith in Sangma that he will fulfil the promise of abiding by the party decision and support Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential election,” NCP general secretary D.P. Tripathi told reporters here.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar pointed out on Sunday that not only is the NCP a constituent of the UPA but Mr. Sangma's daughter Agatha Sangma, is also a Minister in the Manmohan Singh-led government. Earlier, the NCP had warned Ms. Agatha against campaigning for her father.

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