Faced with a precarious numbers game to elect the next President, the government on Monday talked about political consensus even as some parties threw up the name of former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and UPA ally Sharad Pawar changed his stance slightly.
In what could upset Congress calculations, the Samajwadi Party (SP) suggested a second term for Kalam - a virtual repeat of the 2002
scenario that saw the scientist elected to the top post following almost complete political consensus, barring the Left.
The SP's Shahid Siddiqui on Monday recalled it was party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav who first proposed Kalam's name in 2002.
This time too, SP leaders are hopeful of getting the support of the BJP-led NDA and even some UPA allies, such as Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party and Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress.
The BJP, however, has made it clear it is still undecided.
Pawar, on his part, appeared to have nuanced his position from a day earlier, when he was quoted as saying he favoured a person with "not too much" of a political mind.
On Monday, the agriculture minister said, "I have not said this. I have spoken about an agreed candidate."
From the government's side, health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the reality is that no single party has the numbers to get its candidate elected. "If the President is elected, it will be through consensus."
Asked to comment on Pawar's remarks, HRD minister Sibal said, "We have been working towards a consensus."