The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance met on Sunday to decide on its nominee for the presidential poll in the backdrop of a reported divide between the alliance on whether to support or oppose Pranab.
Shiv Sena skipped NDA meet as according to reports the party is undecided on giving support to the NDA's presidential candidate.
"Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackerey will take a decision on the issue," said party leader Sanjay Raut, when asked about speculation that the Sena was against fielding any candidate against Pranab Mukherjee, UPAs Presidential nominee.
Cracks began to appear within the BJP-led NDA and the leading opposition party itself on whether to support or oppose Pranab Mukherjee.
A group of BJP leaders — LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari and Ananth Kumar — met ahead of the NDA’s meeting on Sunday. But they could not reach any conclusion in the absence of clear numbers to work for them.
The BJP leaders seeking a contest were also opposed by a section within the NDA — particularly the JD(U) and Akali Dal. They said it could be embarrassing for the opposition alliance.
Sources said Advani told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday evening – when the latter called to seek support for Mukherjee – that the request had come "a little late". The PM responded by saying that it was never late to make amends.
Sources in the BJP said there was a view in the party that there should be a contest, whether it is by backing P A Sangma, the nominee of AIADMK and BJD, or by supporting Kalam, whose candidature is being pushed by Trinamool Congress.
With the possibility of Kalam contesting virtually ruled out, the NDA may plump for Sangma as it may help it win back allies like AIADMK and BJD who were earlier part of the coalition.
For choosing the VP, the UPA has enough numbers as the electoral college consists of only Parliament members. There is talk that Hamid Ansari could get a second term as VP.
Meanwhile, BJP member Ram Jethmalani added to the drama by saying he would contest against Mukherjee because he failed to act against black money. He did not seem to have any takers.
(With inputs from PTI)