The Janata Dal - United, which had backed United Progressive Alliance's [ Images ] Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee [ Images ], on Monday supported the Bharatiya Janata Party's [ Images ] candidate Jaswant Singh [ Images ] for the vice presidential election.
Describing his party's support to Mukherjee as an "exception", JD-U president Sharad Yadav said, "Whatever BJP leader L K Advani [ Images ] has said (on the vice presidential election) is right. It is a unanimous decision to field Jaswant Singh as the NDA's vice presidential nominee."
Asked whether the vice presidential election has united NDA, Yadav, who is also the convener of the opposition alliance, said, "The NDA was united earlier also. An exception had happened for the Presidential election. We backed Pranab Mukherjee's candidature because he understands the country. That does not mean we are with the Congress."
Sources said that in the NDA meeting, while the BJP cited Ansari's conduct during the discussion on Lokpal Bill in the Winter Session as one of the reasons for its reservations against his candidature, Yadav chose to point out that Ansari had called in marshals to evict Members of Parliament protesting against the Women's Reservation Bill in 2010.
Yadav said he did not approve of Ansari's conduct in the Upper House then.
The sources said that Yadav, who refusd to become the NDA's vice presidential candidate, also suggested the name of BJP leader Najma Heptullah, as she was the alliance's nominee last time and her candidature could be repeated.
Heptullah told him that she has herself declined to be a candidate in the race.
There is a view in JD-U that even though Ansari was likely to be elected to the vice presidential post as the UPA has the required numbers, there was a need to clear misgivings about a rift within the NDA.