New Delhi, June 17 (IBNS): A divided National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on Sunday has begun a crucial meeting to decide on its presidential election candidate.
While some NDA partners like Janata Dal (United) are in favour of supporting United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate Pranab Mukherjee, others are in favour of a contest.
Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Naveen Patnaik is in favour of supporting former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma.
Sangma was also a candidate of AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa.
However, Trinamool Congress, which is in UPA but virulently opposes Pranab Mukherjee's candidature, is not in favour of supporting Sangma and wants to only back A P J Abdul Kalam.
TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee said she will not support Sangma and their only candidate is Kalam, according to TV reports.
While the expectations initially were that the opposition NDA might support Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee for the post of President, BJP leader and legal eagle Ram Jethmalani sprung a surprise saying he would not let the Congress trouble shooter win the poll unchallenged.
The Rajya Sabha MP told news channels that he would contest the polls if need be.
"I might lose, but will still contest Presidential poll. Pranab is a friend, but I oppose his candidature. He hasn't revealed names of black money holders," Jethmalani told NDTV.
A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) core group meeting had failed to come out with a decision on Saturday.
Mukherjee’s was pitched as a nominee of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) by the Congress on Friday, despite opposition from key ally Trinamool Congress (TMC) that has proposed the name of former President A P J Abdul Kalam.
TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee Friday returned to Kolkata in a huff after Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh first sided with the West Bengal Chief Minister in opposing Pranab Mukherjee, only to turn a volte face and declare his support for the Congress leader.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati also supported Pranab Mukherjee.
Even though Kalam was among the names the BJP had initially expressed support for, the party has grown increasingly non-committal over announcing a nominee on the public platorm amid reports that it was hoping to broker a deal with the Congress.
BJP might ask for the post of Vice-president for its leader Jaswant Singh in lieu of supporting Pranab, some reports said.