Days after the United Progressive Alliance said it favoured a second term for Vice-President Hamid Ansari, the Opposition National Democratic Alliance on Monday looked set to announce the name of former external affairs minister, Jaswant Singh, as its candidate for election to the country's second-highest office.
The announcement on the name of Singh, 74, is expected to be made on Monday, when all the partners of the alliance, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, are expected to meet. Senior BJP leaders are of the opinion that the UPA nominee should not be allowed to win uncontested and all Opposition parties should put up a candidate against the ruling Congress-led front.
"Our effort is to get as many political parties together, so that we are able to give a good fight against the UPA's nominee," said a BJP leader.
The BJP is also facing problems within, as its Janata Dal (United) ally had earlier agreed to support Ansari for the presidential election.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar of the JD-U is known to be agreeable on his name. However, senior JD-U leaders indicated a final decision on their stand would be taken in the NDA meeting.
Interestingly, though Singh is a member of Parliament from West Bengal -- he represents Darjeeling in the Lok Sabha -- state chief minister Mamata Banerjee is not willing to back him because she doesn't want to send a message that her Trinamool Congress is supporting a candidate of the BJP.
Banerjee apparently believes that her support for the BJP's candidate could take away the support her party enjoys from the minority community in the eastern state.
Another problem for the NDA is likely to be that its candidate is seen as losing candidate. Ansari has the support of atleast 440 members of Parliament, when he needs only 396 to secure a victory.