Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday said party leader P Sangma, also in the fray as presidential candidate, will respect the party's decision on the top constitutional post. The party will meet on this matter next Thursday.
"He (Sangma) is a senior leader of the party, he has been the Lok Sabha speaker. I am sure if the party takes any decision, he will respect that," Pawar told reporters.
A partner in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the NCP has maintained its support for Congress's presidential candidate Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Sangma, who could be expelled from his party if he goes ahead against Mukherjee, has received support from the Biju Janata Dal and the AIADMK. He is also eyeing support from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
"We will convince him to withdraw," added Pawar.
The NCP on Saturday also said that it "unconditionally" supported finance minister Pranab Mukherjee for the post of President, and not only cautioned but also hinted action against senior party leader PA Sangma for contesting the presidential poll.
"Let me make it very clear that Mr. Sangma does not enjoy support of the NCP. We wish that he does not contest. If he does, I cannot say anything now, he is a senior leader, but I don't think he should defy the party's direction or the line of thinking," NCP leader Praful Patel told a news channel.
"The party's direction and the line is to support Pranab Mukherjee unconditionally," he added.
When asked whether action would be initiated against Sangma, a former Lok Sabha speaker, if he refused to toe the party line, Patel said he was "nobody to take action" but no one should defy the party line or direction.
Sangma on Friday said he would contest the presidential election and had got support from many political parties, and refused to withdraw his candidature even if NCP chief Sharad Pawar asked him to. Sangma has been propped up by the AIADMK and Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
The United Progressive Alliance on Friday named Mukherjee as its presidential candidate, tripping mercurial ally Mamata Banerjee and virtually ensuring his journey to Rashtrapati Bhavan in July.