NDA will back Kalam if he contests
NDA asks UNPA leaders to back Vice President Shekhawat against UPA candidate if Kalam does not contest for second term, reports Shekhar Iyer and Sutirtho Patronobis.delhi Updated: Jun 22, 2007 03:47 IST
The United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA), which is proposing a second term for President A P J Abdul Kalam, on Thursday found the National Democratic Alliance reluctant to join hands with it till Kalam made up his mind to contest.
The UNPA leaders said they were still confident Kalam would contest. They plan to meet the NDA leaders again on Friday before meeting Kalam.
NDA leaders led by A B Vajpayee, L K Advani and Jaswant Singh told UNPA leaders Chandrababu Naidu and Mulayam Singh Yadav said they would “certainly” back Kalam if he ran for a second term.
But if Kalam did not want to contest, the NDA wanted the UNPA to back Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat against the United Progressive Alliance nominee Pratibha Patil.
Naidu and Yadav, however, said they would meet Kalam on Friday to brief him on their talks with various leaders and then talk to the NDA leaders.
The UNPA leaders did not also wish to commit themselves on supporting Shekhawat till they were sure about Kalam.
The NDA leaders wanted the UNPA to note the Congress and its allies had adopted an “arrogant” attitude and even attacked Kalam for expressing readiness to contest.
They said the UNPA and the NDA should join hands on an anti-Congress plank to support Shekhawat if Kalam was reluctant to fight.
The NDA leaders also told the UNPA leaders it was their responsibility to convince Kalam on throwing his hat in the ring. Kalam had surprised UNPA as well as NDA leaders on Tuesday by remarking that he could consider contesting for a second term if there was certainty about his victory.
A senior NDA leader said the onus was on UNPA leaders to tell Kalam that it was for him to assess the “certainty” of success as “all our (NDA-UNPA) votes are with him
The two-hour meeting remained inconclusive. “The only issue discussed was Kalam,” said Naidu to repeated questions from the media on whether any discussion took place on backing Shekhawat. “Since Wednesday, we have been meeting various parties. On Friday, we will call on President Kalam to inform him about our meetings,” Naidu told reporters.
He said though no time had been fixed with Kalam, they would brief him on the progress of their “national mission” to see him as President again.