After finalising their presidential nominee, a Congress woman, UPA allies and supporting parties now want a share of the constitutional pie: in this case the vice president’s post which is due for election in August when incumbent Bhairon Singh Shekhawat completes his five year term.
Shekhawat is also a potential candidate for the Presidential election against the UPA-Left’s consensus candidate Pratibha Patil on July 19.
Sources in the UPA say that the Left and the allies want the vice president’s post. According to a UPA constituent, as the single largest formation the Congress nominee is being projected by the alliance for the President’s post.
The Left, as the second largest grouping with the combine, should get the nomination for the vice president’s post, he added.
Privately, all that some Left leaders would say is that they would prefer a non-Congress nominee for it and would express their views on it when the issue comes up for discussion in the next few weeks.
A senior CPI leader, unwilling to go on record, told the Hindustan Times that the nominee would have to be acceptable to all. “But that does not mean that the candidate would necessarily have to be from the Congress,’’ he said.
A Forward Bloc leader made the same point. He said that though a discussion on the four Left parties on the issue has not yet taken place, he was certain the Left would play a more critical role in it.
“We are certainly not going to play an advisory role alone,’’ he said, hinting that the Left might formally announce their choice of candidate after consulting the UPA.
Prakash Karat, CPI(M) general secretary, said that it was too early to begin talk on the vice presidential polls. “We have just finished finalising the Presidential nominee. The election for the vice president’s post will come up later,’’ he said.
There has been speculation that DMK whose leader M Karunanidhi played a key role during the negotiations for finalizing the UPA-Left nominee is also eyeing the vice president’s post. The Congress has refused to comment on the matter.