Syed Amin Jafri in Hyderabad
Vice-President Krishan Kant (75) is reported to be the final choice of the National Democratic Alliance for the presidency.
According to leading Telugu television channel ETV, the NDA has decided on Krishan Kant for the president's post and former Rajasthan chief minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat for the vice-president's post.
Though Maharashtra Governor P C Alexander was supposed to be the 'front-runner' till June 6, what clinched the decision in Krishan Kant's favour was Telugu Desam Party boss and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu lobbying for him.
Naidu met Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani on Thursday and discussed the NDA's choice for the presidency.
Naidu's strong plea to elevate Krishan Kant finally made Vajpayee and Advani plump for him, the TV channel said.
On Friday, the main opposition Congress also said it would back Krishan Kant for the presidency, if there was a consensus on elevating him to the top post, failing which it was ready for a contest.
Congress spokesman S Jaipal Reddy told reporters in New Delhi that the party was not against consensus on the issue of the presidential candidate and was awaiting the government's response on the subject.
"So far the government has not conveyed its view on the matter to the Congress party... At the moment, things remain the same as they were," he said when asked if the Congress would agree on Vice-President Krishan Kant if the government proposes his name.
On whether the party was ready to follow convention in this regard, he said, "Yes, we believe in convention."
Krishan Kant served as governor of Andhra Pradesh for seven and a half years (1989-97) before his elevation to the vice-presidency. He was governor when Chandrababu Naidu toppled TDP founder-patriarch N T Rama Rao in August-September 1995.
Chandrababu Naidu was instrumental in Krishan Kant's elevation to the vice-president's post in July 1997 when the United Front was in power at the Centre and Naidu was the UF convenor.
Coverage of the run-up to the presidential polls
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