It’s official: NDA gives up on 2nd term for Kalam
Former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee, who has been authorised by the NDA to name the Opposition's candidate for the presidential election, said on Tuesday "we have conveyed to President Abdul Kalam that a consensus could not be evolved on a second term for him".
Speaking at a book release function, Vajpayee said, "We told him that we greatly appreciated and valued his contributions as the President."
Vajpayee's disclosure was the first official admission by the NDA that it has given up on Kalam and favoured another candidate - possibly Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, whose candidature is yet to be officially announced.
The NDA had so far remained silent on whether it supported Kalam or not, though leaders like Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had spoken in his favour.
Vajpayee said Kalam had been chosen by consensus when the NDA mooted his name in 2002 "even though some people (the Left) put up a candidate, necessitating an election."
The former PM said those who had supported the NDA's choice of Kalam, had then asked whether the BJP would insist on his candidature for a second term.
Vajpayee said the NDA still preferred the President to be chosen by consensus. "I am willing to strive for this purpose and will not hesitate to meet leaders of other political parties.”