New Delhi: 10:50 AM Trinamool Congress (TMC) Chief Mamata Banerjee refuses to lend her support to possible NDA nominee PA Sangma.
10:03 AM: Shiv Sena may skip NDA meet, say sources. The sources add the party is undecided on giving support to the NDA's presidential candidate.
The NDA will hold a crucial meet on Sunday to decide on their Presidential nominee.
Sources say the coalition is divided on its choice of nominee, with a section favouring PA Sangma, another favouring APJ Kalam and yet another favouring UPA's nominee Pranab Mukherjee.
Sources say that senior BJP leader LK Advani is in favour of a contest and has reportedly been told by AIADMK Chief Jayalalithaa to support PA Sangma. Even as Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee insists that she will still support APJ Abdul Kalam for the Presidential race, sources say that Advani has asked Sangma to try and elicit the West Bengal Chief Minister's support.
NDA coalition partner the JD(U), however, says that a contest at this stage would only bring embarrassment to it. The party has reportedly said that it favours a consensus around the UPA's nominee Pranab Mukherjee. Sources within the party say that it feels that a contest could be embarrassing as neither APJ Abdul Kalam has so far agreed to contest nor the NDA has the numbers.
JD(U) Chief Sharad Yadav, who on Saturday met Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders including Naresh Gujral, said after the meeting that NDA will take a collective decision on the matter after the meeting on Sunday.
However, another section within the party favours a contest as they see the Presidential elections as the big battle before the 2014 General Elections and feel that they shouldn't be seen going without a fight.
Senior party leader Ram Jethamalani on Saturday even threatened to defy the party and contest himself for the race if the BJP backed the UPA's nominee Pranab Mukherjee.
Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy too is in favour of a contest. He, however, supports Kalam. According to him, he wants to see Pranab challenged.
Meanwhile, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) of Odisha has said that it fully backs PA Sangma.
Sources in NDA allies said that much will depend on how the BJD and AIADMK, which have backed PA Sangma's candidature, respond to the situation.
"Both NDA and UPA are wooing these two parties. If they continue supporting Sangma, there could be a contest, otherwise no contest. You see Kalam is not going to agree to contest unless he is cent per cent sure of winning the seat," a senior leader from the alliance said.
The leader also indicated that the JD(U) is soft towards Pranab but the party won't take the extreme step of opposing NDA's decision if the majority view is for contest.
So all eyes are on the NDA meet now.