With the BJP’s key allies in the National Democratic Alliance distancing themselves from its offer of support for former President APJ Abdul Kalam as a presidential candidate and indicating a willingness to consider even a Congress nominee, the main opposition alliance faces the risk of scattering over the issue.JD-U leader and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar phoned Vice-President Hamid Ansari on Tuesday to convey his disagreement with BJP leader Sushma Swaraj’s view that Ansari did not have the stature to be President. Sources said Kumar may consider supporting Ansari if he is sponsored by the ruling alliance.
After Swaraj said on Monday that the BJP would not support any candidate sponsored by the Congress, NDA convenor and JD(U) president Sharad Yadav suggested that the NDA shared neither her idea of rejecting a Congress candidate nor her positive approach to Kalam.
"There has been no discussion with us yet on this issue. The NDA has not yet decided its candidate," Yadav said.
On whether he would back Kalam if the SP proposed his name, Yadav said, "Why should I answer imaginary questions?" NDA constituent Shiromani Akali Dal’s Sukhbir Singh Badal also underlined that the alliance had not taken any decision and that the BJP had not officially communicated Kalam’s name to them. He also played down talk about his father Parkash Singh Badal’s name being considered for the post of Vice-President.
JD(U) sources said there was disquiet in the party over Kalam’s name popping up as he “cannot be a candidate of choice for the Left parties and Muslim opinion” and, thus, would not attract support.
The JD(U) is sensitive to the opinion of the Left and Muslims, clearly indicating that it could consider taking a position divergent from the BJP.; Given its desire to attract Muslims in Bihar, the JD(U) would be unwilling to be seen opposing Ansari and would not mind confronting the BJP on the issue.
With BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy insisting that Swaraj had not spoken on behalf of the NDA, the party appeared open to allies taking individual positions on whom to back as President.