The debate over the choice of the country's next President gained further momentum on Tuesday with the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad advocating the name of vice president Hamid Ansari for the top post.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad put in the public domain Ansari's name, which was being discussed in political circles for many months.
"Our vice president Hamid Ansari should be made the President. He is a good candidate for the post. He should be upgraded as the President," Prasad said.
Major political formations — the Congress-led UPA and the BJP-led opposition NDA — continued to maintain that no decision has been taken on the choice of the President so far.
Sources in the Congress made it clear that even preliminary discussions had not started over the issue. In what appeared as welcome news for the ruling party a day after the name of former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam emerged strongly, the CPI(M) asked the government to initiate discussions to evolve a consensus for the top post.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, however, snubbed his party leader Shahid Siddiqui for naming Kalam as a possible choice. "The party has not taken any decision on this," he said.
On Siddiqui having favoured Kalam, Yadav said, "It may be his personal view but the party has not decided yet."
Senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said his party would support a candidate enjoying the "maximum consensus" and asked the Congress to initiate talks.
Asked whether the Left would agree to Pranab Mukherjee or Hamid Ansari, he said: "Why should someone object or not object to anyone? The ruling party, by delaying discussions, is allowing a lot of speculation. This is not healthy."