They discuss Presidential poll at length at Chennai meeting

A day before the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is to meet in New Delhi for discussing the Presidential election, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani and Chief Minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Jayalalithaa met here on Thursday and decided to adopt a coordinated approach to the issue.

Mr. Advani, who was here as part of the parliamentary standing committee on Home Affairs that is visiting the State, told reporters after a half-an-hour meeting with Ms. Jayalalithaa at the Secretariat that they discussed the issue at length. When he mentioned to her that the NDA would meet in New Delhi on Friday, she told him that “it would be proper if we keep in touch with each other and coordinate our approach towards the issue of Presidential election”.

He recalled Ms. Jayalalithaa's recent telephonic conversation with him when she had conveyed that she and Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal leader Naveen Patnaik would support former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma. Asked whether the name of former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam came up for discussion, Mr. Advani said, “All names figured.”

Ms. Jayalalithaa, who also met the press after Mr. Advani's interaction, repeatedly said that she had nothing specific to say. “Whatever has to be said has already been said by Shri Advaniji.”

To a query on the name of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being mentioned as a potential candidate, Ms. Jayalalithaa replied she did not want to indulge in speculation.

“So far, no one has come out with a firm announcement on who the probable candidate will be.”

On the developments in New Delhi on Wednesday, Mr. Advani said they had made the situation “very dicey,” and “I have never seen any government handling an important election like the Presidential election so clumsily to make its position worse day by day.” Ms. Jayalalithaa concurred with the assessment.

The BJP leader said: “We [NDA] are conscious of the fact that the Congress party and the UPA [United Progressive Alliance] government, are not able to reach a consensus on the issue.”

Though he did not want to hazard a guess on the outcome of Friday's meeting of the NDA, he said it was likely that some of his colleagues would say ‘let the Congress decide first,' before taking a decision.