Divided over support for Pranab Mukherjee [ Images ] and P A Sangma, the Bharatiya Janata Party [ Images ] and the Janata Dal-United on Friday made it amply known that the issue remains a sticky point between them as they appealed to each other through the media to change their positions.
With the JD-U and the Shiv Sena [ Images ] having drifted away, the BJP was trying to reach out to the Trinamool Congress [ Images ] to rope in its support for P A Sangma who was pinning hopes on "conscience" vote in the July 19 Presidential poll in which Mukherjee appears set to be a clear winner.
A day after the Presidential poll issue divided the National Democratic Alliance, BJP spokesman Ravi Shanker Prasad appealed to the JD-U as well as the Shiv Sena to come around to support Sangma.
"We appeal to the JD-U and Shiv Sena to review their decision to support Mukherjee in the presidential poll and instead back NDA nominee P A Sangma in the election for the top constitutional post," BJP national spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters in Patna.
JD-U leader Shivanand Tiwari was quick to retort with a counter appeal.
"We also appeal to the BJP to back the candidature of a seasoned and experienced politician like Pranab Mukherjee so that a person with intelligence and commitment to the Constitution and parliamentary democracy occupies the chair of President," he said.
He also objected to Prasad's contention that Mukherjee was responsible for the problems the country's economy was facing and virtually spoke the UPA government's line on the issue.
Asserting that Mukherjee was not "responsible" for the mess in the Indian economy, he said that the economic crisis as a result of host of issues, including global economic situation.
After losing support of the JD-U and Shiv Sena, the BJP was trying to reach out to Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee [ Images ] to seek backing for Sangma.
"Mamata's candidate was former President APJ Abdul Kalam [ Images ] who has refused to contest the Presidential polls. So rationally she should have supported Sangma, who is a capable leader from the Northeast," BJP leader Sushma Swaraj [ Images ] told reporters in Bhopal.
She said Sangma will speak to Mamata on the issue soon.
On his part, Sangma was pinning hopes on "conscience vote" and his tribal identity as he said he has sought appointments with Mamata and Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray [ Images ] as part of exercise to reach out to everyone.
He said that he is "constantly in touch" with Mamata and is "very hopeful" of her support.
"The election (for Presidency) will be by a secret ballot. Secret ballot means conscience vote. I depend on conscience vote and I believe in conscience vote," he said.
He said that the fact that there is a "split" in almost all political parties shows that this Presidential election is a serious one and "not as smooth as the Congress is claiming".
Sangma said that the UPA candidate is also not getting the undivided support of the ruling alliance as Mamata, whose party in a constituent of UPA, is "not supporting Mukherjee as yet". He criticised Mukherjee over his handling of the economy and virtually dared him for a debate on the issue.
The Congress was dismissive of the challenge, saying it was a "non-starter" and pointed out that the President is not supposed to manage the economy.
He also downplayed as 'idle talk' suggestions that the Congress is coming closer to the Janata Dal-U, which broke ranks with the BJP-led NDA and announced its support to Mukherjee.