The United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA), a coalition of eight political parties, formalised on Saturday its decision to abstain from voting in the Presidential elections. In the remaining electoral college, UPA’s Pratibha Patil has a definitive edge over the NDA’s Bhairon Singh Shekhawat. The election for the President would happen on July 19.
The newly formed front also decided to put up its own candidate for Vice President. It will announce its candidate at the opportune moment. The V-P election is slated for August 10. The decision was announced after a meeting at INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala’s home. Chandrababu Naidu of Telegu Desham and Samawadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav were among those who attended the meet.
The decision not to support a candidate backed by the Congress-led UPA or the NDA had been taken in June and the UNPA will stick to it, said Jayalalithaa, UNPA leader and AIADMK chief. She added the coalition cannot have separate yardsticks for the election to the two top executive posts in the country, and the same principle of not supporting either the Congress or the BJP was being followed in the V-P election.
Recently, former Election Commission G V G Krishnamurthy had opined that the UNPA’s decision against voting could amount to exercising undue influence on a section of the electoral college. This was not permitted under the law governing the election to the President’s office.
But Jayalalitha clarified the UNPA consulted legal experts before deciding to abstain. The experts were of the view that there was no bar on not voting in the Presidential election.
The coalition has 1.05 lakh votes in the Presidential electoral college with SP having the maximum share.
Jayalalithaa was candid enough to admit that the UNPA does not expect to win the election V-P election. “We are not expecting to win. But (we expect) to register our vote. Register our identity,” she said, adding that UNPA would not seek NDA’s support for the election.
The AIADMK leader said that if the Left parties wanted UNPA’s support in the V-P election, they would have to withdraw support to the UPA Government.
On the issue of National Conference joining the UNPA, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said Farooq Abdullah would soon announce it himself. “He had joined UNPA for an informal meeting on Friday. He will announce his joining the UNPA himself,” Mulayam said.