JD(U) favours consensus on Mukherjee

 Consensus in favour of Pranab Mukherjee's Presidential candidature seems to be growing within NDA with a section of the opposition alliance saying a contest at this stage will only bring embarrassment to it.

Sources in JD-U, a key ally of the BJP-led coalition, said the party would favour a consensus around Mukherjee and feels a contest should be avoided as it could be embarrassing as neither APJ Abdul Kalam has so far agreed to contest nor the NDA has the numbers.

JD-U chief Sharad Yadav, who today met Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders including Naresh Gujral, said after the meeting that NDA will take a collective decision on the matter after its meeting tomorrow.

Slamming attempts to drag Kalam's name in the Presidential race, Gujral said it amounted to "demeaning and trivialising" Kalam as he has not given his consent for the same.
"Why do you take Kalam's name again and again, when he never said he will contest. We actually trivialise and demean Kalam when we drag his name again and again," he said.
Asked whether Akali Dal will support Kalam's candidature, actively pursued by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, the SAD leader said his party will respond to such questions only after Kalam says he is contesting.

Though sources said that SAD is keen on NDA projecting Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal as a candidate for the post of Vice President in a quid pro quo, Gujaral denied any such plan.

"Badal is happy where he is placed. He is in Punjab and he is happy. We are not into a position to advance his name (for Vice President). Will we bring insult on us by doing it when we do not have the numbers," Gujral said.

At the same time, he said the UPA has never attempted to "accommodate" the Opposition and build consensus on the issue of President.

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