New Delhi: The allies of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) seem to be getting together to push for an apolitical presidential candidate with President Pratibha Patil's term ending in July. The name that seems to getting the maximum leverage is that of former president APJ Abdul Kalam.
Key UPA ally and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has said that there must be dialogue across the NDA and the UPA on the issue.
"There should be dialogue at high levels and a decision has to be taken. I am confident that concerned leadership will initiate the process of dialogue. Now, we have to think of an 'agreed' candidate," said Pawar.
Earlier, he had said he wanted a consensus on the name of the candidate but the next president must be a non-political person.
"Till now, there has been no proposal as such for the candidature of the President. We ought to have a consensus on this issue and I wish both the ruling UPA and the main opposition NDA arrive at a consensus. Preferably, the candidate must be a non-political person," said Pawar.
The comment assumes significance in the backdrop of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee meeting Samajwadi Party leadership recently. The SP has reportedly been pushing for Kalam as the next President.
The TMC and the SP have, however, maintained that there is no consensus on the name of the candidate yet.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants the President to be a candidate with a clean record.
"I feel that the point of concern is not whether the candidate should be a political person or a non-political person. The important point is that the person appointed to be as the President of India must not have any controversies against him or her and must be able to resolve the constitutional ailments and other dangers threatening the country at present," said BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
However, the BJP is likely to prefer former president Kalam getting a second term.
The Congress, on the other hand, is batting for Vice President Hamid Ansari and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar for the candidature.
Other names that are likely to come up in the race to the Rashtrapati Bhawan are Pranab Mukherjee, Mulayam Singh, Gopal Gandhi and Sushil Kumar Shinde.