JD(U) president Sharad Yadav hints his party will go with the BJP

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will meet on Monday to finalise its Vice-Presidential candidate even though the UPA’s nominee Hamid Ansari is a sure winner, given the arithmetic in the electoral college.

The Bharatiya Janata Party Core Committee, at its meeting on Saturday, decided that even though it would be a symbolic fight, the Vice-Presidential election should not go uncontested.

The party, however, chose to leave the probable choice for the contest wide open for a number of reasons. After the division within the NDA on the Presidential election, the BJP is keen on avoiding a repeat of the scenario.

Senior leaders of the party are in touch with leaders of the NDA constituents as well as the Trimanool Congress, which is yet to indicate its position, and the AIADMK and the BJD. The BJP is hoping to secure the support of these parties for the Vice-Presidential election.

Indications are that if the TMC puts up its candidate, the BJP would work to persuade other constituents of the NDA, the AIADMK and the BJD to lend their support. Indications are that senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh is ready to fight if there is consensus on his name.

JD(U) to go with BJP

Ahead of the NDA meeting, the Alliance convener and JD (U) president Sharad Yadav hinted that his party would go with the strategy of the BJP.

“The issue of Vice-President election and Pranab Mukherjee are separate. I have never supported Congress’ political line since I joined politics. We have supported Mr. Mukherjee for his political experience only,” Mr. Yadav told reporters.

The statement by Mr. Yadav is significant as Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had gone public earlier that his party would prefer Mr. Ansari as President.

On reports of the NDA considering his candidature, Mr. Yadav merely said he would not comment on “speculations.” According to sources in the BJP, the name of the JD (U) president figured as one of the possible choices, but he is not keen on entering the race.

In Kolkata, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has been quoted as saying the BJP would consider supporting a consensus candidate against Mr. Ansari if the Trinamool Congress approached it.

In Chennai, the former West Bengal Governor, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, one of the names preferred by the TMC, has been quoted by PTI as saying: “I have thanked West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for having thought of me and suggested to the UPA partners my name for the Vice-Presidential election.”

Sena support

Mumbai Staff Reporter writes:

The Shiv Sena has announced its support to the NDA candidate. Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut told The Hindu that he would be attending Monday’s NDA meeting.

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