Shekhawat prefers consensus on Kalam, meets Vajpayee


New Delhi : Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, named presidential candidate by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), met former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee late Monday, even as he said he would be glad if President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is a consensus candidate.

Support TwoCircles

In the meeting at the former prime minister's residence, Vajpayee apparently sought to convince Shekhawat of his chances, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sources said, adding that there was some apprehension that the eight-party Third Front's preference for Kalam as a consensus candidate might dissuade the vice president.

Earlier in the day, Shekhawat surprised many when he said he would be "glad if there is consensus on Kalam and nothing would give me greater satisfaction then the president continues".

Shekhawat said in a statement: "Total unity of all political parties is an imperative. I would be happy if that were achieved. President Kalam and I have worked together as a united team for the last five years and have had no differences of viewpoint or approach.

"This high office of the republic is not for political contention or controversy."

The statement comes on a day when the main opposition NDA finally decided to back Shekhawat as an independent candidate for the post while the eight-party Third Front at its meeting in Chennai decided to support Kalam for a second term.

The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the left parties decided Thursday to field Rajasthan Governor Pratibha Patil for the July 19 election.