The forthcoming Presidential election has resulted in a vertical split in the National Democratic Alliance and Left Front, making the journey of UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee to Rashtrapati Bhavan easier.
The divide in the NDA was complete on Thursday as the JD(U) followed the Shiv Sena and announced its support to the finance minister, while the BJP and the Akali Dal favoured former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma who has been adopted by them as their candidate for the top post.
As for the Left Front, the CPM and Forward Bloc decided to support Mukherjee. The CPI and the RSP opted to abstain from voting scheduled to take place on July 19.
Thanking the BJP for supporting him, Sangma said he would appeal to the TMC, JD(U) and the Sena to support him. He already has the support of the AIADMK and BJD.
Support for Mukherjee grew on Thursday as JD(S) too announced support for him. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, which is part of NDA as well as UPA’s Trinamool Congress have not taken any decision.
Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley said the BJP decided to support Sangma after trying unsuccessfully to evolve a consensus within the NDA. They asserted that the decision of JD(U) and Sena would have no impact on the “mature” coalition of NDA. Swaraj said BJP would try to bring Trinamool, which broke ranks from UPA, also on board.
JD(U) president Sharad Yadav told journalists that his party was for a consensus and would back Mukherjee. He said his party supporting 77-year-old Mukherjee did not mean that the NDA was divided.
The BJP was sucked into a situation where it had no option but to assist an outsider primarily, on two counts.
And the other issue, which appeared to be more of an afterthought, was that the Congress did not consult them prior to making nominating Mukherjee, leaving little scope for consensus. As for the Left, senior CPI leader A B Bardhan said: “CPI has decided to abstain from the polling. We will not support any candidate.”
CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat said: “The CPM decided to support the candidature of Mukherjee. In the present situation, he is the candidate for the post of President who has the widest acceptance.”
He also reiterated that the party would continue to fight neo-liberal economic policies being pursued by the UPA government which are against the interest of the people.
Karat denied that the decision has anything to with the political equations prevailing in West Bengal.