UPA-Left’s presidential nominee Pratibha Patil is expected in Delhi on Saturday to plan out the strategy for her election. This includes working out details like the list of proposers and the date of filing her nomination papers which is likely to be after seeing what the NDA and Third Front parties decide in their meetings on June 18.
While the list of proposers is likely to include Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and other UPA and Left leaders, Parliamentary Affairs Minister, PR Dasmunsi will be Patil’s election agent. A five member election management team has been set up to ensure her victory. It includes Pranab Mukherjee, Ahmed Patel, Dasmunsi, Suresh Pachauri and RK Dhawan.
Others roped in to help in this task include Oscar Fernandes, ministers of state in Parliamentary Affairs Ministry, Motilal Vora and, in respective states, the Pradesh Congress Committee office bearers.
Other UPA partners and Left leaders would also pitch in with the campaign as evidenced from Forward Bloc’s appeal to the NDA not to turn the presidential poll into a political batteground by fielding a candidate.
While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi have already made an unsuccessful bid to seek a consensus from the NDA on Patil’s candidature, backchannel efforts are on to talk to individual constituents of the opposition grouping, including the JD(S), the JD(U) and the BJD. Patil’s Maharashtra connections has already put the Shiv Sena in a quandary.
The Congress attacked the BJP for not supporting Patil’s candidature and accused the saffron party of being "blatantly" against the cause of women."It is very unfortunate that at this crucial moment in India's history the opposition BJP does not have the political grace, social commitment or the moral fibre to support the candidature of Patil," said spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan. The JMM, which is part of the UPA, announced its support for Patil.
There is no indication yet whether Parliament would be called to facilitate voting by MPs who are, alongwith state legislators, part of the electoral college that elects the President.
Sources hinted that standing committee meetings may be organized to ensure the MPs’ presence for voting in the Capital. The Monsoon session of Parliament is likely to be tied up with the visit of the Japanese Premier who is likely to address the MPs.