Former Union minister Arvind Netam was suspended from the Congress party on Thursday for opposing UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee and backing Purno A Sangma in the presidential elections.
"Arvind Netam has been suspended from the party with immediate effect," Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said. The move came after Netam, a tribal leader from Bastar, Chhattisgarh, addressed a press meet with Sangma.
Netam appealed for widespread support to Sangma, who is backed by main opposition parties BJP, BJD and AIADMK.
Netam said the Tribal Forum of India had sought support for Sangma from various political parties, but the Congress failed to respond. He said the forum had shortlisted six tribal leaders, including Sangma, as possible presidential candidates.
Campaigning for Sangma, Netam had earlier said electing a tribal to the Rashtrapati Bhawan alone could remedy the marginalisation of the minority community. Interacting with the media, Sangma, a former Lok Sabha Speaker, said the forum had also sought an appointment with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, but in vain.
In a related event, RJD chief Lalu Prasad met Gandhi at her residence to discuss the presidential polls.