New Delhi: The Left front's meeting to decide its stand on the Presidential elections has begun. Sources say they are divided and may abstain from vote altogether. Pranab Mukherjee reached out to the CPM seeking support for his candidature on Wednesday. However, sources say that he did not get any commitment from the Left.
10:15 am: Even as the NDA struggles to reach a consensus on the Presidential candidate, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal have decided to back the candidature of former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma. A formal announcement on the BJP's support for Sangma is expected later in the day. BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley will address the media at 12 noon.
But it remains to be seen whether the other NDA allies will agree. The NDA allies will meet later on Thursday to take a decision. The JD(U), which has been opposing any contest against UPA's Presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee, is expected to make an announcement separately at 1 pm on Thursday. Sources say that the JD(U) is likely to support Pranab.
The Shiv Sena, too, has voiced its dissent on Sangma and has announced support for Pranab.
One of Sangma's biggest supporters is AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa. She said she was waiting to see if her West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee will back Sangma now that Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was out of the race.
Sangma resigned from the NCP on Wednesday saying, "The disinclination of the NCP to endorse my candidature amounts to a denial of the aspirations of the tribals of the country. I have no option but to resign from the NCP. I have resigned accordingly, without any personal intent whatsoever of embarrassing the party and its leadership."
Separately, the NCP will meet to discuss the fallout of Sangma's resignation from the party. Sources say his daughter Agatha may be asked to step down as union minister if she campaigns for him.
Race for Rashtrapati Bhawan: Where the numbers stand
Support for Pranab
UPA (-TMC) + RJD + SP + BSP + NDA ALLIES (SS + JDU) = 53.2 per cent
Support for Sangma
BJP + SAD + BJD + AIADMK = 27.6 per cent
Left + TMC = 9 per cent
Others = 10.2 per cent