The big question before the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, when it meets on Friday, would be whether it should pitch for APJ Abdul Kalam for the post of President — somebody they had tried to reinstate in the top post on an earlier occasion.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has strongly backed Kalam's candidature.Even as Mamata seemed ready to break the UPA ranks on the issue, NDA working chairperson LK Advani met Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa on Thursday. Both the leaders agreed to put a coordinated plan into action after the UPA formally announces its candidate. "We discussed the presidential election at length and agreed to coordinate strategies," Advani said.
Whether Advani has received a firm assurance from Jayalalithaa, who has already announced her support for former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma (along with Odisha CM and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik), was not clear. However, BJP sources said the NDA leaders could consider convincing Jayalalithaa and Patnaik to back Kalam, and then make their nominee - Sangma - a candidate for the Vice-President's post.
In the electoral college, which has 10,98,882 vote value, the BJP-led NDA only possesses around 3.04 lakh. The Congress and its allies, including Trinamool, have over 4.60-lakh vote value. Mamata has 48,000 votes that could be added to the NDA’s tally if Kalam is projected. Jayalalithaa's 36,920 votes and Patnaik's 30,215 votes could push the opposition's tally to 4.18 lakh votes. BJP leaders also discussed the candidature of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.