BHUBANESWAR: The presidential race got hotter with the State unit of the NCP meeting former speaker P A Sangma to announce support for him, going against the stand of the party.
The State unit, headed by former minister Amar Prasad Satpathy, met Sangma on a day when the former Lok Sabha speaker also met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in New Delhi. The NCP leaders also met party supremo and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
Satpathy told this paper that they apprised Pawar about the stand taken by the Odisha unit taking the political situation of the State into consideration. Pawar was not averse to the decision, but told the State leaders that the party will have to sail with the UPA.
Supporting Sangma’s candidature, Satpathy said besides being the former speaker of the Lok Sabha, Sangma is also a tribal leader. As one-third population in the State is tribal and Sangma is from the NCP, the State unit has decided to support him. Announcement of support for Sangma by Naveen has raised hopes of the tribal population in the State and even some of the tribal Congress MLAs from Odisha are likely to support him, he said.
Satpathy said the NCP leaders from some other States also met Sangma announcing their support for him. Naveen had announced support for Sangma in the presidential race on Thursday. He launched a campaign for Sangma before leaving for New Delhi on Monday by describing him as a distinguished tribal leader and best presidential candidate.