Prez poll: Advani faults Congress for lack of consensus

Congress cannot be the “conscience keeper” of the consensus it has been trying to achieve for the unanimous election of its candidate for the President post,NDA working chairperson and BJP leader L K Advani observed. 

“In political circles, it is fashionable these days to raise the question” of wanting “unanimous election” on the basis of a consensus arrived at between government and the opposition,” Advani remarked in his blog, criticising the Congress for thinking about consensus after announcing its candidate. 

The question is often thrown at the BJP as if to suggest that the party is “doing something improper” by backing former NCP leader P A Sangma against Mukherjee, Advani wrote, choosing instead to blame the attitude of the ruling party for the lack of consensus. 

He said Congress informed him only after it had chosen Mukherjee as its candidate. 
“When within minutes of Soniaji announcing the name of Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the PM phoned me to tell me that the UPA’s candidate would be Pranab and requested for our support; my comment was: “You are informing us now; would it not have been better if you had consulted the Opposition before making the announcement?” His reaction was: “Well, it is never too late to mend,” Advani wrote.

He said the candidate himself did not seek support of the opposition, but had chosen to recall the fond memories of the relationship he enjoyed with him (Advani) and how they had been working together since 1970 when they entered Parliament. 

He recalled how the election of Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was unopposed amongst the 13 Presidential elections held so far as it came after the  country was emerging from the traumas of the emergency, suggesting that consensus had been an exception on that occasion.

Even tall leaders like Dr Rajendra Prasad, Dr Radhakrishnan or Dr Zakir Hussane had to fight since the maiden 1957 poll to become presidents.

Throughout that period, Advani wrote, the Congress never sought the support of the opposition owing to its strength post independence.
 
On the contrary, he said, the NDA asked the support of Sonia Gandhi before fielding Abdul Kalam in 2002.

The former deputy prime minister also dug out an “oddest” instance to ridicule Congress ‘consensus’ credentials.  

The then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, had fielded “independent” aspirant V V Giri against Congress’ official candidate Neelam Sanjiva Reddy in 1969. Due to her own "conscience vote" appeal, the Congress candidate Reddy ironically lost to Giri.

With this bit of history Advani tried to point out the verbal duel between the Congress and SP after the latter decided to oppose Mukherjee but reversed its stance within 24 hours.
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