Vajpayee for consensus candidate for president


New Delhi : Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Tuesday said he favoured a consensus candidate for the post of president and would work towards evolving one.

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"I will talk to all persons and parties concerned on this matter and make an effort to evolve a consensus candidate for this post," he told reporters at a book release function here.

His remarks assume significance since the Left parties have already laid down the ground rules saying that the candidate should "have secular credentials" and were supportive of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee for the post.

Vajpayee, who has been authorised by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to decide on the presidential candidate, said just as his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had managed to build a consensus on A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for the presidential post last time, so also a consensus needs to be worked out this time.

Kalam's term comes to an end in July.

On a second term for Kalam, he said there were some sections who did not want to give him one since there was a convention that no president got a second term.

"We (BJP) also saw reason in this and so we conveyed it to Kalam that it was not possible to give him a second term and he accepted it," Vajpayee said.

Asked about his being a presidential candidate, Vajpayee said it was the media, which was speculating.

The former prime minister had shot down the proposal at an NDA meeting last week where Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Bannerjee had suggested his name.

Subsequently, Vajpayee had also issued a statement that he was not in contention for the president's post.

He was attending the release of "Nishank", a collection of short stories by Uttarakhand minister Ramesh Pokhriyal.