The BJP's announcement of support for former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma for the presidency on Thursday drove home the reality that key players in the country's major political formations are keeping their electoral options open for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
If the UPA failed to convince Trinamool chief Mamata Bannerjee to back its candidate Pranab Mukherjee, two key constituents of the NDA — the Janata Dal (United) and Shiv Sena — broke ranks to support Mukherjee.The Left also split on Thursday, with the CPI(M) and Forward Bloc backing Mukherjee and the CPI and RSP deciding to abstain.
Blaming the government for the absence of a consensus, BJP's Sushma Swaraj said, "If a consensus was to be there, the UPA should have had prior consultation with us, as Atalji had done with Sonia Gandhi and Mulayam Singh Yadav over APJ Abdul Kalam during NDA days."
Senior party leader Arun Jaitley added: "The UPA only informed the Opposition after announcing its candidate and expected us to fall in line."
The Congress reacted sharply, with chief spokesperson Janardan Dwivedi dubbing the charge as "childish". He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi had appealed to all to support Mukherjee.
Jaitley also said the BJP wouldn't want to be seen strengthening a "failed UPA" and suggested that the government had manoeuvred to effect a change in the Samajwadi Party's stand.
JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav, who announced his party's support for Mukherjee, said the decision would not affect the NDA.