BJP in a fix, allies divided on presidential candidate

BJP in a fix, allies divided on presidential candidate

With contrasting stands among its allies on the presidential election, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appears to be in a fix.

Shiv Sena, a part of the BJP-led opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has already publicly said it would support Pranab Mukherjee, the Congress-led ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate for the highest office in the country.

After the BJP's core committee meeting Monday decided that contesting the poll was necessary, the party was put in a tight spot by the Shiv Sena, which not only favoured Mukherjee but urged other political aprties too to back the finance minister. 

This is a second time the Shiv Sena has ditched the BJP. In the last presidential poll too, it had supported UPA candidate Pratibha Patil.

Another major ally, Janata Dal-United is also reportedly not in favour of putting up a candidate against Mukherjee.  

In another setback to the BJP, sources said former Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa has affirmed support to Mukherjee. However, an official declaration on his stand is yet to come from Yeddyurappa.

The BJP, which is yet to decide on a presidential candidate, is sticking to its stand of not letting Mukherjee win uncontested.

"That is the general sense that we must have a candidate against Mukherjee, even if it is only symbolic. Otherwise, we will appear as a weak opposition," a BJP leader, who did not want to be named, told IANS.

The leader, however, refused to comment on the possibility of the BJP going alone against its allies.

The party had Monday night refused to talk to the press after the core committee meeting. It only said that a final decision would be taken after a meeting of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders, a date for which has not yet been fixed. 

During the meeting, the party had reportedly discussed backing Nationalist Congress Party leader and former Lok Sabha speaker P. Sangma.  

Sources in the BJP say the the NDA meeting will take place this week, followed by another meeting of the party's core committee.

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