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BJP core group to meet today, allies divided over Pranab

The BJP core group is meeting today in the backdrop of BJP allies in the NDA getting divided over pitching a candidate against UPA's presidential choice Pranab Mukherjee. Pranab comfortably placed in prez race | BJD still with Sangma

delhi Updated: Jun 16, 2012 15:36 IST

The BJP core group is meeting in New Delhi on Saturday to decide on supporting finance minister and Congress veteran Pranab Mukherjee's candidature for the country's presidency.

The meeting comes against the backdrop of Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) getting divided over pitching a candidate against Mukherjee, the ruling United Progressive Alliance's choice for the top post.

While the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) do not want to pitch a candidate against Mukherjee, Subramanian Swamy-led Janata Party and the Shiv Sena are in favour of bringing an opposition candidate, say sources.

The meeting will be held at 6 pm at BJP president Nitin Gadkari's residence, a party member confirmed.

The opposition NDA is scheduled to meet Sunday to discuss the presidential election.

Meanwhile, JD-U leader Shivanand Tiwari, talking to reporters in Patna, made a pitch for supporting Mukherjee, saying it was his "personal view".

Sources in the JD-U say that at the NDA meeting, the party leaders will stress on supporting Mukherjee.

BJP led NDA is left with no choice after reports that ex-President APJ Abdul Kalam, who was high on the NDA's list, may not risk contesting an election when UPA "seems to be sure of victory."

Secondly, with the SP and the BSP backing him, BJP insiders say party leaders may not see any big political purpose being served by putting up a candidate against Mukherjee.

On the other hand, there is also a view that if the NDA backs Mukherjee there could be a possibility of reaching an understanding with the government for the post of Vice-President.

The finance minister has had excellent personal ties with all BJP leaders. The PM spoke to Advani and others after Mukherjee's name was announced.

Yadav has since backed out. The JD-U too has expressed opposition to supporting Kalam.

SAD leader Naresh Gujral told reporters Saturday that the party would not comment on the issue before the NDA meeting.

"Akali Dal has been a disciplined ally. We have no personal views," Gujral said, adding that a decision would be taken Sunday.

BJD on the other hand made it clear on Saturday that their presidential nominee still is PA Sangma.

Sangma is still insisting on contesting, saying that he has been supported by AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik.

(With inputs from IANS)

First Published: Jun 16, 2012 12:57 IST