Keen on contest, NDA likely to endorse Sangma

Ex-Speaker quits NCP to stay in fray

A deeply divided National Democratic Alliance is likely to adopt P A Sangma as its candidate in the Presidential election, after the former Lok Sabha Speaker quit Nationalist Congress Party which opposed his candidature.

Sangma resigned after he was assured by the BJP brass that he would be backed by the NDA, although it is nearly certain that key constituent Shiv Sena will oppose him while JD(U) has reservations about him.

In a statement released here, Sangma said: "I have no option to resign from the NCP...without any personal intent whatsoever of embarrassing the party and its leadership".

Sangma’s likely candidature was discussed at a meeting of BJP leaders held at veteran L K Advani’s residence on Wednesday evening. The NDA is likely to meet here on Thursday to take stock of the situation and possibly endorse Sangma’s candidature.

The candidature of the tribal leader from the North-East was first announced, by Biju Janata Dal chief and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik. He was soon backed by Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalitha.

The 64-year-old Sangma, who has leader, who has been projecting himself as a tribal candidate, noted that he had received “promises of support from senior leaders of non-Congress parties, including those in the NDA” after being endorsed by the BJD and the AIADMK. The BJP-NDA assurance of support was conveyed to him by Janata Party’s Subramanian Swamy, who also informed the media of Sangma’s resignation from NCP.

“Sangma is a candidate of Jayalalitha and Naveen Patnaik and the only question that remains is whether NDA will back him. Final decision will be taken at the NDA meeting. I can only say consensus is in favour of supporting the candidate of Jayalalithaa and Patnaik,” Swamy told reporters.

According to Swamy, the former Meghalaya CM was “unhappy” with NCP and Congress and feels that he was insulted because he is from North-East and is a tribal. He also claimed Sangma told him that he wanted to protect his self respect.

Swamy had earlier made a vain attempt to rope in former president A P J Abdul Kalam to enter the fray on behalf of the opposition alliance.

Sangma said in his resignation letter: “I hereby tender my resignation from the primary membership of NCP with immediate effect. I place on record my deep gratitude to the President, other office bearers and rank and file of NCP for the courtesies extended to me by them at personal level while I was a member of the party.”

The NCP general secretary, D P Tripathi, regretted that Sangma resigned from the party even after assuring the Nationalist Congress Party leadership that he will abide by party decision to support United Progressive Alliance nominee Pranab Mukherjee.

Unfortunate

“It is unfortunate that Mr Sangma has gone back on his word. Ten days ago he had assured Mr Pawar in my presence and that of Tariq Anwar and Agatha Sangma that he would abide by the party decision on the issue of Presidential poll,” Tripathi added.

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