New Delhi: The race to the post of President has never been this intense before. With the NDA yet undecided on its Presidential nominee, PA Sangma adamant that he will not opt out and Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee firm that only APJ Abdul Kalam will have her support, the whole exercise has indeed become an interesting one.
The NDA called a meet on Sunday to decide on its Presidential nominee. Many felt that the coalition would be able to decide on a consensus candidate, widely expected to be PA Sangma. Cracks appeared at the very outset as Shiv Sena refused to attend the meet, saying it was yet undecided on whether or not to support the NDA's nominee.
Post-meeting, a harried-looking Sharad Yadav addressed the media and said that the NDA had failed to arrive at a consensus and that it would hold another meeting at a later date to decide on its candidate.
Sources said that a part of the NDA felt it was better to wait and see what the Left's stance was going to be. The parties felt that if the Left too was not in favour of the UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee, then the NDA could think of getting its support for PA Sangma, said sources.
Sangma, meanwhile, has sought support from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Chief Sharad Pawar and said that he has sought Mamata's support too.
The Trinamool Congress supremo, however, remains adamant that she will not support anybody but APJ Abdul Kalam. The West Bengal Chief Minister has even launched a Facebook page to explain his support for him.
There are sections within the NDA, like Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy, who want Kalam to contest.
However, with Kalam rejecting outright any possibility of him contesting, the NDA seems likely, in days to come, to agree on Sangma.
Meanwhile, key NDA ally, the JD(U) has said that contesting the President poll just for the heck of it will be a "politically unwise" move. The party has said that a contest at this stage would only bring embarrassment to the NDA. It has reportedly said that it favours a consensus around Pranab Mukherjee.
However, senior BJP leader Ram Jethamalani has threatened that he will join the Presidential race if the party backed Pranab.
Speaking of Sangma again, he reportedly has the full support of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) of Odisha and the AIADMK under J Jayalalithaa. He now plans to go to Mumbai and seek the support of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.
Meanwhile, the NDA has decided to consult chief ministers, including Gujarat CM Narendra Modi over the issue.