Pranab seeks support of non-DMK MLAs

Seeking to reach beyond the political divide for the July 19 Presidential polls, UPA-II nominee Pranab Mukherjee has written to even MPs and MLAs outside the DMK-Congress fold, triggering a flurry of activity in the run-up to the polls.

Pranab’s broader appeal has caused ripples in Tamil Nadu’s political circles, as individual letters seeking support have also been sent to MLAs of actor-turned-politician Vijayakant’s DMDK, after his party’s decision to boycott the polls.

While the DMDK with 29 MLAs is the main Opposition in the TN Legislative Assembly, followed by the DMK with 23 MLAs, Mukherjee’s appeal across parties has triggered anxieties even among parties which have decided to back the Opposition Presidential candidate, P A Sangma. His candidature has been proposed by the AIADMK Supremo and Chief Minister J Jayalalitha and her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik, and backed by the BJP, among others. 

Mukherjee’s letter has even caused a flutter that DMDK might reconsider its stand and back the UPA nominee as Vijayakant has broken ties with ‘Amma’. “But there is no change in our stand on this issue,” said the DMDK Presidium Chairman and veteran former Tamil Nadu minister, Panruti S Ramachandran.

Meanwhile, AIADMK MPs (the party has a total of 14 MPs in both houses of Parliament) today wrote to the Election Commission to permit them to vote in the Presidential polls in Chennai itself on July 19.

Jayalalitha has also convened a meeting of AIADMK MPs and MLAs here on July 18, to advise them on the voting procedure and to ensure that even by mistake no cross-voting takes place despite the fact that a whip cannot be issued by any party to its MLAs/MPs. ‘Amma’ is expected to return to Chennai on July 18 from Kodanad in Ooty to vote in the Presidential polls the next day.

Nonetheless, not all of AIADMK’s allies are wishing to vote for Sangma. For instance, the Islamic outfit, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK) headed by Jawaharullah with two MLAs have decided to support Pranab. The MDMK with one MP in LS, despite its estrangement from AIADMK, will vote for Sangma, according to MDMK leader Vaiko.

CPM on VP nominee

Amid these cross-currents, CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat, who is here to participate in the party’s three-day State Committee meeting, told reporters that they have conveyed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that “we like to have a person who is not in the Congress party” for the Vice-President’s post. The CPM is backing Congress nominee Pranab for President’s post, while CPI will boycott the polls.

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