New Delhi: Left parties were on Thursday divided on the Presidential election with CPI(M) and Forward Bloc deciding to support UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee while CPI and RSP opting to abstain from the voting.
The four parties could not arrive at a consensus at an hour-long meeting attended by top leaders of the parties, including Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), AB Bardhan (CPI), TJ Chandrachoodan (RSP) and Debabrata Biswas (FB).
"Two parties have declared they will support Pranab Mukherjee, two parties have decided they will abstain," Bardhan told reporters without elaborating.
Karat said his party has decided to support the candidature of 77-year-old Mukherjee as "in the present situation, he is the candidate for the post of President with the widest possible acceptance".
The CPI-M leader said support to Mukherjee did not mean backing for Congress and that his party will "resolutely fight" the "anti-people" policies of UPA government.
Forward Bloc General Secretary Debabrata Biswas said his party was not in favour of abstaining from the voting slated for July 19 for which the battle lines have been drawn between Mukherjee and PA Sangma.
RSP General Secretary TJ Chandrachoodan said his party will abstain from the voting.
Bardhan said the Left parties will remain united though they are taking different stands on Presidential poll issue.
"As far as Left Front is concerned, it will continue as ever, it will continue to be united as ever. This is only one single incident where there is a difference of opinion, a slight difference of opinion. We will continue our movements and struggles jointly," he said.
The CPI-M's decision to support Mukherjee came after a meeting of the party's Polit Bureau this morning in which the senior leaders deliberated on the issue.
Sources said one section of the party was for abstaining from the poll while another was for supporting Mukherjee. The section advocating abstention was of the view that they could not be seen voting for a Congress candidate.
They said Mukherjee had reached out to Karat on Tuesday seeking his party's support but the CPI-M leader had not given any commitment. Mukherjee had telephoned Karat as part of Congress exercise to get support from non-UPA parties.
Left parties account for around 51,000 vote value in the electoral college of 10.98 lakh vote value.
During the Left meeting, Forward Bloc backed Mukherjee, saying he has earned the "widest possible acceptance" and that it wanted to drive a "wedge" between Congress and Trinamool Congress. The party has two MPs and 12 MLAs.
G Deverajan, National Secretary of Forward Bloc, said that the Left parties had earlier decided that the candidate should have the "widest possible acceptance" and in the present context, the Congress veteran has got support from the political spectrum.
"Mukherjee has support from all sides. UPA is behind it. NDA allies Shiv Sena and JD(U) are in his favour. Two non-UPA, non-NDA parties, BSP and SP are supporting him. Now he has the widest possible acceptance," Deverajan said.