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DMK prefers Shinde as president


New Delhi : The DMK prefers Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde as the next Indian president but will settle for anyone the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the Left pick, party sources said Monday.

The sources made this known to journalists even as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi met Left and UPA leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

He will also be here Tuesday to attend the National Development Council (NDC) meeting.

While Karunanidhi avoided naming who he wanted as the president, a close confidant said: "If we have a choice, it would be Shinde. He is a Dalit, knows Delhi. He is from Maharashtra. So he may also manage Shiv Sena votes, which will put UPA in a far more advantageous position vis-à-vis the opposition."

The names of several politicians, including External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Moti Lal Vora, Narayan Dutt Tiwari and Shinde, are doing the rounds in political circles.

Asked if a Dravidian party like DMK would agree to a Brahmin candidate like Vora or Tiwari, the DMK insider said: "In 1969 when we were far more militant, our leader (Karunanidhi) did not hesitate to support V.V. Giri, a Brahmin candidate, at the request of Indira Gandhi. Much change has taken place since then."

The Left has made it clear that any candidate for the president's post should be political, fiercely secular and fully competent to handle the delicate issue of relations between the legislature, judiciary and executive.

Karunanidhi said he agreed with the Left perspective. "I fully agree with these three qualifications, spelled out by the CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist)." But he added that "winnability" was also important.

He told a select group of journalists: "I had a meeting with (CPI-M general secretary Prakash) Karat and (Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad) Pawar. We discussed the presidential elections. No final decision was taken.

"I will return to Delhi in the first week of June and only then we will finalise the candidate," he added. Asked about media speculations, he quipped: "Yes, we do hear names in the media."