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Left lukewarm on Patil as President

india Updated: Jun 09, 2007 15:15 IST
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Home Minister Shivraj Patil’s proposed candidature for the President’s post does not have the open support of all UPA partners at present though they may come around once the ongoing consultations are over.

The Congress has asked Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee and AK Antony along with Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel to work out a consensus with UPA partners on the presidential polls.

Since the Congress has not formally named its nominee, the CPI(M) and the CPI have reacted cautiously to Patil’s candidature. But the Forward Bloc and the RSP have opposed it.

CPI (M)’s Nilotpal Basu told the HT that his party was not aware of Patil’s nomination. “So far, there has been no discussion (with the Congress) on the issue. We will discuss the matter once (general secretary) Prakash Karat, returns to India,’’ Basu said. Karat is expected back this weekend.

CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan said none of the Left parties have been informed about the development. “Till we are formally told, I would not like to comment,’’ he said.

But Forward Bloc secretary, G Devrajan said the Left’s opinion against Patil was communicated to Sonia in May. “Patil is a partial man. He never takes decisions on time. The Left parties are also against Sushilkumar Shinde and Karan Singh. We had told Sonia that a strong candidate should be put up,’’ he said.

Abani Roy, RSP’s Rajya Sabha MP, said his party’s stand would be decided only after the Congess announces his candidature. “Our Central Committee will meet on June 19-21 and decide who to support. But if Vice President BS Shekhawat contests, he will be a heavy-weight candidate. We would need someone who could take him on,’’ Roy said.

UPA allies like RJD, LJP and NCP have steered clear of creating any public controversy over Patil. They claimed no names were discussed during their separate meetings on Thursday and Friday with Mukherjee and other Congress leaders.

But privately a section in these parties fault Patil’s proposed nomination. “He lost the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, has been a Cabinet minister only recently and has the veneer of soft Hindutva,’’ alleged an NCP leader. The Congress has dismissed these charges.

Officially, the NCP is “solidly with the UPA’’ on the Presidential polls. “The next President will be from the UPA.He will be a distinguished political leader of national and international standing and secular credentials,’’ said NCP’s D.P. Tripathi said after Pawar met Congress leaders,

A final round of consultations with allies with take place next week when the PM, who is in Berlin, and Sonia, who is in the Netherlands to address a think tank institute, return. And to project a united front, the allies will jointly announce their presidential nominee.