Fali Nariman, noted jurist and a man of impeccable integrity, whose name was floated by the Bar Counil of India on Monday for the post of President of India, has declined the invitation.
Speaking to rediff.com Nariman said, "I am not interested in contesting." He however refused to give reasons for declining to contest for the top-most constitutional post of the country.
When asked if rediff.com was talking to the next President of India, "No. I am merely a contestant. I would contest even as independent candidate," former speaker and tribal leader P A Sangma said.
"The rights of northeastern states have been over looked. We have had Presidents from various states and communities, but we never ever had a tribal as the President," Sangma said in an informal conversation.
His candidature is being supported by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha and Odisha Chief Minister Navin Patnaik. But West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has openly rejected his candidature.
Sangma made it clear that he has no differences with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and he had told her that he was sorry for what he had said about her being of foreign origin.
"Let bygones be bygones, she told me" Sangma said.
"I feel Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar should be the next President as she is a scheduled caste leader. Former Governor of West Bengal Gopalkrishna Gandhi or even former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam could be other candidates. Kalam was a good president. But personally, I would prefer Kumar," said Mamata.
Jayalalitha, who has been campaigning for Sangma has been in touch with leaders of all political parties seeking their support, particularly the states run by non-congress parties. She spoke to senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani as well on this issue.
The BJP would discuss its stand on the Presidential polls during its national executive meet to be held in Mumbai on May 24-25.
Samajvadi leader Mulayam Singh Yadav has given a cold shoulder to Sangma's candidature.
Sonia is holding consultations with a faction of the United Progressive Alliance-II to arrive at a consensus on the matter. The UPA alliance has been toying with the names of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Vice Presaident Hamid Ansari and Kishore Chandra Deo -- a tribal leader from Andhra.