BJP core group to meet today, allies divided over presidency (Lead)

June 16th, 2012 - 4:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) The BJP core group is meeting here Saturday to decide on supporting Finance Minister and Congress veteran Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature for the country’s presidency.

The meeting comes against the backdrop of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) getting divided over pitching a candidate against Mukherjee, the ruling United Progressive Alliance’s choice for the top post.

While the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) do not want to pitch a candidate against Mukherjee, Subramanian Swamy-led Janata Party and the Shiv Sena are in favour of bringing an opposition candidate, say sources.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at BJP president Nitin Gadkari’s residence, a party member confirmed.

The opposition NDA is scheduled to meet Sunday to discuss the presidential election.

Meanwhile, JD-U leader Shivanand Tiwari, talking to reporters in Patna, made a pitch for supporting Mukherjee, saying it was his “personal view”.

Sources in the JD-U say that at the NDA meeting, the party leaders will stress on supporting Mukherjee.

The BJP has been saying that it will not support a Congress candidate.

The party is in favour of former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, whose name was first put forward by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Yadav has since backed out. The JD-U too has expressed opposition to supporting Kalam.

SAD leader Naresh Gujral told reporters Saturday that the party would not comment on the issue before the NDA meeting.

“Akali Dal has been a disciplined ally. We have no personal views,” Gujral said, adding that a decision would be taken Sunday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday called BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley and sought the party’s cooperation in electing Mukherjee as the next president.

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