Refusing to yield to pressure from his party to withdraw from the presidential race, Purno A Sangma on Wednesday resigned from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), a welcome sign for the BJP which is keen on a contest against Pranab Mukherjee.
A considered view in the BJP is that Sangma, a former Lok Sabha speaker, remains the only viable face in the contest after former president APJ Abdul Kalam’s refusal to enter the fray.
A section in the party, however, apprehended that Sangma could cause an embarrassment if he bowed out just as Kalam did. But Sangma's resignation has come as a reassurance for BJP.
"I had no option but to resign from NCP…. Disinclination of NCP to endorse my candidature amounts to denial of aspirations of country's tribals," Sangma said in his resignation letter.NCP chief Sharad Pawar immediately accepted his resignation, a move that could impact the continuance of his daughter Agatha Sangma in the Union council of ministers. NCP leaders indicated that Agatha could face the axe only if she campaigned for her father.
The Congress left it to the NCP to decide on any action against her. "Congress is not going to advise NCP on what to do about Agatha," spokesman Rashid Alvi said.
Sangma's candidature is unlikely to change the electoral fortunes in favour of the troubled NDA given that two of its constituents, Sena and JD(U), have already pledged support to Mukherjee.
This is the second time the veteran leader from Meghalaya has quit the NCP since he along with Pawar and Tariq Anwar formed it on 25 May 1999.
He had split the party in 2004 and later merged his faction with the Trinamool Congress before rejoining the NCP in 2006.