Karunanidhi to join talks on presidential poll
Consultations over the next presidential candidate of the ruling alliance are expected to be put on fast track with the arrival of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on Monday in the Capital and the Left saying that it would soon hold talks with UPA allies on the matter.
Karunanidhi, who is also the DMK chief, will be in New Delhi for the National Development Council (NDC) meeting and has already said that he would hold consultations with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on the ticklish issue.
BSP supremo and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, whose party holds the key to the next Presidential candidate, has just held talks with Singh and Gandhi and would be consulting her party MPs and MLAs in the next few days.
She has given clear hints that she was on board with the UPA in the matter by staying away from NDA leaders during her two-day stay in the capital.
Significantly, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat on Sunday said his party would soon start consultations with UPA alliance partners on the issue of Presidency.
So far the consultations were being carried out by prime minister and the Congress president who had held extensive consultations with the Left given the fact that UPA-Left together needed BSP's support to ensure a smooth sailing of the candidate of the ruling alliance.
The Left has already set its criteria for a Presidential nominee saying the candidate must have a political background and firm secular credentials.
The future President must be able to exercise judgment to maintain balance between Parliament, Executive and Judiciary, it said
The opposition NDA is playing it cool after authorising former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to take a decision in the matter.
Vajpayee has called for a consensus but there is no indication so far of any UPA response to it.
Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat has emerged as the hot favourite of the NDA which has not announced any name so far.
Shekhawat is also banking on his 'friends' across the political spectrum with his supporters claiming that they can tilt the election in their favour with a little support from south of the Vindhyas.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, a known friend of Shekhawat, has however, made it clear that he would be with the UPA.
"He is a good friend of mine but that does not mean that we support him for the post of president. As everybody knows I have friends across the political spectrum, but we will only support what is decided," Pawar said.
The elections for the top post are expected to be announced anytime now, with incumbent A P J Abdul Kalam due to retire on July 24.