Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party — the two major parties who are lending outside support to the United Progressive Alliance — on Tuesday made it clear that they had taken no decision on presidential polls, as there were no names of any candidates before them.
However, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad made it known that he favoured “upgradation of Vice-President Hamid Ansari.”
Asked if he would support the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, he said that he had already had one term in office.
BJP and Janata Dal (United) leaders said there should be consultation and consensus with all parties.
A non-committal BSP leader Mayawati said in Parliament that she would take a decision when some names were proposed. “Let some names be shortlisted. Only then will we take a decision,” she told journalists, after taking oath as a member in the Rajya Sabha.
With the BSP's reduced strength in the Assembly after the recent State elections, only two BSP members were elected from Uttar Pradesh. Besides her, BSP member Munquad Ali also took oath on Monday.
SP leader Mulayam Singh also distanced himself from the speculation that his party had proposed the name of Mr. Kalam. “The party hasn't taken any such decision,” he said. On Mr. Kalam, he said: “He is a good man, but there is no name before us.”
With this, Mr. Singh scotched rumours that his party colleague, newly-elected Rajya Sabha member Kiranmoy Nanda, had discussed Mr. Kalam's nomination with Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, when he called on her in Kolkata earlier this month.
To a journalist's question on if he would favour another woman president, Mr. Singh was non-committal.
With Parliament in session, it is expected that political parties will send feelers to one another on possible candidates for the top post. So far, the two major alliances, the UPA and the National Democratic Alliance, haven't made any formal efforts to start the process of consultation.
On Monday, Nationalist Congress Party chief and UPA ally Sharad Pawar, had made it clear that he expected allies and regional parties to be consulted for an “agreed” candidate. The President's term ends in July. The Vice-President's post falls vacant in August.
Major political parties have so far played their cards close to their chest, waiting for the big parties to make the first move towards building a consensus.
“The political leadership of UPA should initiate a high-level dialogue to decide on a candidate,” Mr. Pawar said.