Call for Kalam's candidature creates rift in NDA

With the stage set of the presidential elections, most parties have come up with names of the candidates of their choice for the poll to the coveted post, but the BJP today appears to have suffered a setback with divisions becoming apparent in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over the issue.

The NDA has 3,04,785 of the total 10,98,882 votes and would be faced with an uphill task if it were to decide to field a candidate. This has however, not stopped the BJP which leads the coalition from dropping names of contenders it would support or reject – as its leader in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, did on Monday, extending support to former president Abdul Kalam and rejecting vice-president Hamid Ansari.

However, the Janata Dal (United) was quick to point out that it was not the decision of the NDA in a bid to distance itself from her statement.

Sharad Yadav, JD(U) president and NDA convener, delivered a virtual snub to Swaraj saying, ''Whatever Swaraj has said is the opinion of the BJP. This is not our party's view. The issue was not discussed in any NDA meeting. BJP has not discussed the issue with us.''

As if this was not enough, another ally the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) said NDA had not yet met to take a decision on the presidential and vice presidential candidates. The SAD leader Sukhbir Singh Badal's remarks came in response to a question about the candidature of his father and Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal for the post of vice president.

Meanwhile, the Congress ­– the leader of the ruling coalition UPA seems to be maintaining a strategic silence.