New Delhi: Ignoring the differences in the NDA, the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal on Thursday announced that they would back former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma in the Presidential election because they did not want to give the Congress-led UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee a walkover.
Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj on Thursday announced that the NDA would support Sangma while admitting that two of its key constituents - Shiv Sena and JD(U) - were against the decision.
Swaraj said that the BJP, as the main Opposition party, does not want to give a walkover to Pranab Mukherjee in the President poll because there was no prior consultation by the UPA with them.
"NDA formally met twice to discuss the Presidential polls but there could not be unanimity. The JD(U) and the Shiv Sena are against putting up a candidate. For consensus, the UPA should have consulted us like Atal Bihari Vajpayee did for APJ Abdul Kalam," said Swaraj while calling Sangma a "tall leader" and the "tallest leader of the Northeast".
Soon after BJP's announcement, Sangma addressed the media and thanked all those who were supporting his candidature.
The senior BJP leader also said that the UPA has failed to evolve consensus by failing to consult them on Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's candidature. She also said that LK Advani had told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that they should have held prior consultations with the NDA on the Presidential poll.
BJP leader Arun Jaitley said that the party wanted to play the role of the principal Opposition party. "Contest is an idea integral to democracy, not alien to democracy," he said.
Jaitley also sounded positive in bringing key UPA ally and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on board on this decision. "Mamata is a seasoned politician. We will reach out to all non-Congress voters," said Jaitley.
Replying to whether the BJP's decision would break the NDA, Jailtey said, "NDA is a mature alliance and there is no question of it breaking down. We hope our partners will reconsider, we regret that we could not persuade them."
SAD spokesperson Daljeet Singh Cheema said that the party would support Sangma.