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S S Barnala in fray for vice presidential poll

July 20, 2007 12:24 IST

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Karunanidhi has suggested the name of Surjit Singh Barnala, governor of Tamil Nadu, as a possible vice president candidate for the United Progressive Alliance and Left parties.

A former chief minister of Punjab, Barnala has the ability to carry other parties with him, including Akali Dal from the National Democratic Alliance.

An experienced campaigner, Barnala has friends in all political parties and has the stature of Bhairon Singh Shekhawat,who would be stepping out of office in the third week of August.

"Left parties have spoken to him on Thursday evening and Barnalaji, who is right now in Himachal Pradesh, would be reaching Delhi on Saturday evening," a source close to the media-shy Barnala told from Kasauli on phone.

Left parties, who have been given the task of suggesting names for the vice president's post, have already made it clear that they would prefer to have a non-political person.

Other names doing the rounds are of Irfan Habib, Professor Mushirul Hassan, Swami Agnivesh and Dr M S Swaminathan.

"I am ready to serve the nation if I am asked to do so," Swami Agnivesh told last on Thursday night.

According to sources, Left parties' leaders had long a chat with the 68-year-old social worker who shot into limelight four decades back when he started working for bhatti mine workers and started their liberation moment.

He had worked during 1992 in Ayodhya when few dared to venture out to help those who needed it after the demolition of Babri Masjid.

Dr M S Swaminathan, a leading agriculture scientist, earned his name by focusing on the growth of wheat and other agricultural products.

Irfan Habib and Mushirul Hasan are also strong contenders for the post of vice president.

"Do we have just one minority community? What about Buddhists," asked a senior journalist when he heard the list of the possible candidates.

Samajwadi Party has fielded Rashid Masood as its candidate for vice president.

The last date for filing of nomination is July 23.

Onkar Singh in New Delhi