Shooting down partyman PA Sangma’s presidential ambitions, NCP chief Sharad Pawar reiterated his support for the UPA’s candidate on Friday. Meanwhile, BJD leaders also expressed surprise at party chief Naveen Patnaik's decision to back Sangma, hinting they were not consulted.
“It was a surprise to many of us,” Bharatruhari Mahtab, chief whip of the BJD in Lok Sabha told HT about his party chief's decision. While the NCP refused to back Sangma, BJD leaders jumped into action-after being prodded by Patnaik-to campaign for the Tribal leader.
ADMK boss and Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalitha also made an appeal asking all political parties to “rise above political considerations and support Sangma and ensure he becomes the next President of India”. Patnaik hinted that he will talk to other party leaders to garner support for their candidate.
A day after his name was announced by ADMK and BJD, Sangma met Pawar on Friday but sources in NCP said that the party boss ruled out any support to him as NCP is a part of UPA. While Sangma reportedly told Pawar that he was a part of a Tribal forum that is in favour of a tribal leader for the President's post, Pawar maintained he will discuss his suggestions in the party.
Sangma also denied that he was pulled up by Pawar: “Any tribal leader can become the next president that is what we are trying to achieve,” he said.
Meanwhile, Patnaik specifically asked his colleagues to highlight Sangma’s achievements as the Speaker of Lok Sabha, his legislative career, the northeast connection and his prominence as a Tribal leader. He, however, asked his colleagues to refrain from talking about Sangma’s religious background.
Sangma lacks stature: Cong
Even as the NCP once again distanced itself from PA Sangma’s move to push for a tribal as the next President, a Congress leader said the former Lok Sabha speaker lacked “both political and ethical stature” expected of the head of the state. In a hard hitting statement, AICC office bearer Praveen Davar also said Sangma had earlier nursed an ambition of becoming the Prime Minister and was now “playing into the hands” of the BJP. HTC