NEW DELHI, May 17 �Keeping its options open, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has declined to spell out its stand on supporting PA Sangma�s candidature as the 13th President of the country. An NDA meet later this month will decide on its nominee.
The BJP clarified it stand today after the BJD extended its support to Sangma�s nomination. The former Lok Sabha Speaker also enjoys the support of the AIADMK, though the NCP is yet to openly support his candidature.
BJP spokesman Shahnawaj Hussain was non-committal about supporting Sangma�s candidature, stressing that the NDA would decide on its nominee shortly. The NDA is yet to meet and decide on its candidate, he said.
A meeting of the alliance partners is proposed to be convened soon after the national executive meeting in Mumbai, which will also discuss the issue, he said.
Behind-the-scene activities gathered momentum after Odissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today nominated the former Lok Sabha Speaker for the highest Constitutional post.
The BJD chief also claimed that the AIADMK led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has also pledged support to Sangma for the President�s post. The announcement came barely a week after he met the AIADMK chief in Chennai.
The BJP-led NDA is weighing its options cautiously and reportedly exploring the possibility of supporting a Muslim candidate. It is in this connection the name of former President APJ Abdul Kalam is in circulation. The main option the alliance is planning is to use the Presidential election to test the waters by throwing a challenge to the UPA-II.
The Indian Confederation of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (ICITP), a body representing over 300 tribal organisations, has been pressing for election of a tribal candidate for the post. They have proposed the names of Sangma and Meghalaya Governor RS Mooshahary.
A delegation of the ICITP that also included NDFB (P) leaders had recently met Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.
Tribals comprise about 8 per cent of the country�s population and there are 53 tribal MPs in the Parliament. There have been Presidents from Scheduled Caste and religious minority groups but not a tribal yet, the tribal leaders have argued.