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Presidential polls: What the NDA will do
June 18, 2007 11:40 IST
Leaders of the National Democratic Alliance on Monday discussed the possibility of fielding Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat as an independent candidate in the Presidential election.
Top NDA leaders, including Lal Kishenchand Advani, party president Rajnath Singh, Sarad Yadav, Nitish Kumar and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, drove down to NDA chairman Vajpayee's home for deliberations. Vajpayee is expected to announce support for Shekhawat's candidacy on behalf of the opposition front.
Vajpayee, who was authorised by the NDA to evolve a consensus, has already rebuffed the ruling United Progressive Alliance's pleas for consensus on its nominee Pratibha Patil and the BJP has declared that the July 19 poll will not go unopposed.
The NDA's meeting comes a day after the Samajwadi Party, a constituent of the Third Front, virtually refused support to Shekhawat as it indicated it would maintain equidistance from both the ruling and the opposition alliances.
Faced with massive dissidence, especially in Rajasthan and Gujarat, the BJP has been trying hard to prevent any cross-voting from its camp.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has already met both Shekhawat and party chief Rajnath Singh and is understood to have discussed the problem with them. In Gujarat too, Chief Minister Narendra Modi is facing dissidence, especially from supporters of state party leader and his known critic Keshubhai Patel.
The BJP has suspended three of its MLAs in Gujarat over the past two years and issued a show cause notice on Saturday to its legislator and former Agriculture Minister Behchar Bhadani for his outbursts against Modi.
The Third Front is also scheduled to meet later in the day in Chennai to finalise its stand on presidential elections.
Shekhawat's strategy to contest as an independent is aimed at attracting votes of those outside NDA formation like the Third Front and cross-voting from even the UPA. As these parties had decided against supporting a Congress nominee, they have been left with only three options -- to field a candidate on their own, to support Shekhawat's candidature or to abstain from voting.