BJP for vice presidential contest, to seek NDA nod


New Delhi : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Saturday said it will contest the Aug 7 vice presidential poll but failed to decide its candidate due to lack of consensus in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over the issue.

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“We have decided to contest the vice president election,” BJP leader Ananth Kumar told reporters after the party’s core group met here at party president Nitin Gadkari’s residence on a day when the United Progressive Alliance announced it was backing Vice President M. Hamid Ansari for a second term.

But Ananth Kumar did not give any names of the party’s likely candidates.

The BJP, which wants to field its candidate for the post of vice president, will discuss the likely names with its allies during the NDA meet Monday, he said.

“We will discuss the issue with NDA allies July 16. We will also talk to other political parties,” said Ananth Kumar.

The names of BJP leaders Najma Heptulla, Jaswant Singh and Murli Manohar Joshi have been making the rounds as probable opposition camp candidates.

Sources from the party, however, add that any final decision will be taken after fathoming the wish and support of allies as well as other non-Congress parties.

“BJP cannot jump head right without calculating the kind of support we will have. All options have been kept open, but there is a strong feeling that a BJP member must be fielded for the contest,” a leader said on condition of anonymity.

The main opposition party is treading cautiously as ally Janata Dal-United (JD-U) has indicated it may support ruling United Progressive Alliance’s nominee Hamid Ansari.

The JD-U and another NDA ally, Shiv Sena, broke ranks with the BJP to support UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee for the July 19 presidential poll.

“If some good candidate is suggested by other allies or even other non-Congress parties, we may consider it,” the leader said.

The Trinamool Congress, which is on a rough patch with the Congress, has suggested the names of former West Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi and freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose’s niece and former Lok Sabha member Krishna Bose.

A BJP leader said both were “good and ideal candidates”, but refused to divulge if the party may back either.