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BJP for Kalam as President
April 30, 2007 21:30 IST
BJP leaders refuse to say it openly at this juncture, but make known their preference privately for fears any public comment from the saffron party could harm his chances.
"As of now there is almost unanimity in the BJP that he (Kalam) should be re-elected," a senior BJP leader, who did not want to be named, said.
Top BJP leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani and Rajnath Singh had driven down to Rashtrapati Bhavan in 2006 for an unscheduled meeting where they said to have tried to pursuade Kalam to agree for a re-election bid.
"We would not like to say anything officially and in public now as it would give our rivals a chance to portray him as BJP candidate," the leader said.
Its reluctance to come out openly in support of Kalam is also because Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat is understood to be keen for elevation to the highest office.
The opposition is banking heavily on the results of Uttar Pradesh elections, which it feels could become a determining factor in election of the next President.
"Kalam is our first choice. If it does not materialise, then we have Shekhawat," the leader said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister P R Dasmunsi, when asked at a news conference the stand of the UPA in view of the CPI-M's opposition to Kalam's second term, steered clear of the issue. "It is for the party to decide. Whoever is made the official candidate, I will be the chief election agent," he said.