BJP-supported Presidential candidate P.A. Sangma said he hoped to win on the basis of a “conscience vote,” which helped V.V. Giri win against Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, both Congress-backed candidates, in the 1969 elections.
(During the 1969 elections, several Congress stalwarts backed Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy as the official Congress nominee for the post of President. However, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who backed V.V. Giri, asked electors to vote according to their conscience. Mr. Giri won the elections by a margin of 14,650 votes in a run-off, on second preference votes, after the first round failed to return either candidate.)
Mr. Sangma was here on Sunday to canvass votes.
Earlier, the former Lok Sabha Speaker met tribals from the State and danced with them. Mr. Sangma enthusiastically beat a drum while Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan gleefully danced to his beat, as State BJP president Prabhat Jha watched.
Mr. Sangma said he did not think his decision to run against UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee could put his daughter, Nationalist Congress Party MP Agatha Sangma, who is a Minister in the UPA government, in a difficult spot.
“Not at all,” he said in reply to a question. “Because Presidential elections are not fought along party lines. That’s why Pranab Mukherjee has resigned from the Congress and I have resigned from the NCP,” he said.
Mr. Sangma interacted with journalists at the State BJP office here, sharing the stage with Mr. Chouhan and other BJP leaders, including Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, party general secretary Narendra Singh Tomar and Prabhat Jha.
Asked whether he would join the BJP if he failed to win the elections, Mr. Sangma said that remained to be seen.
During the press conference, Mr. Sangma was questioned by some journalists over the “propriety” of using the national emblem on the website supporting his candidature for President. Within minutes, the emblem was reportedly removed.