Unable to decide its stance on the upcoming presidential election, the Samajwadi Party on Sunday authorised its chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to take a final decision, even as it claimed that it was "born not only to fight communal forces but also to eradicate these from the political scene".
The national executive of the Samajwadi Party met in New Delhi and asked Mulayam Singh Yadav to present its viewpoint at a meeting on Monday in Chennai of the newly formed 'Third Front'. The Samajwadi Party is a constituent of the eight-party grouping.
The 'Third Front', also comprising the AIADMK, Telugu Desam Party, Indian National Lok Dal, Kerala Congress (T), Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and MDMK, is expected to take a decision on who it should support in the presidential election.
While the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), Bahujan Samaj Party and the Left combine has proposed Rajasthan Governor Pratibha Patil as its official candidate, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance has decided to throw its weight behind Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who is expected to contest as an independent.
Talking to reporters, senior Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav was evasive when asked whether his party would support Shekhawat.
"He (Shekhawat) was a BJP chief minister (in Rajasthan). He became the vice president as a BJP candidate. But in the Rajya Sabha he was neutral as its chairman," he said.
However, he added: "The sentiment of the national executive is against both UPA and NDA. With only 1.10 lakh votes we do not have the strength to field a candidate, but a decision on whether to abstain or field a candidate will be taken at Monday's meeting."
Meanwhile, talking to reporters outside the party office, Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh said his party would try to defeat "communal forces".
"Our party was born not only to oppose communal forces but also to eradicate such forces from the political scene," he said.
In the July 19 presidential elections, Pratibha Patil is expected to have a clear edge as the UPA-BSP-Left combine has 570,000 of the total 1.098 million votes in the electoral college comprising MPs and MLAs. The NDA has 354,689 votes.