5:00 pm: The Left parties are a mixed bag when it comes to the presidential elections.
Two of the left parties will support Pranab Mukherjee while the two others will not vote at all. CPI is expected to abstain from the voting while the CPM is expected to back the UPA’s candidate.
4:00 pm: Naveen Patnaik thanks the BJP for backing Sangma as the presidential candidate. Sangma was initially picked by the Odisha chief minister and the Tamil Nadu chief minister as their pick for the poll.
2.20pm: CPM to propose Pranab Mukherjee‘s name in the Left meet.
1.00pm: Sharad Yadav of the JD(U) says they were seeking a consensus for the post of president and tried for it till yesterday. However in the absence of a consensus they have said that they will support Pranab Mkherjee’s candidature.
12.45pm: Responding to a question from reporters Sangma says that he was in talks with Mamata Banerjee as late as last night, and was hopeful that she would support him in the Presidential poll against Pranab. “I have appealed to Mamata Banerjee and she said if Kalam is not a candidate then you will be our choice”, he said. Meanwhile Times Now reports that Mamata Banerjee and the TMC have decided to vote for Sangma. More details are awaited.
12.40pm: PA Sangma speaking to reporters outside his house, has expressed great happiness that the BJP and several NDA alliances have decided to back him as President. He said he understood that the JD(U) and the Shiv Sena were not supportive of his candidature, but appealed to them to back him as well. Sangma also reiterated that the fact that he resigned from the NCP and the Meghalaya assembly showed that he was very much in the race.
12.30pm: Jaitley is asked if the BJP will try to bring Mamata Banerjee on board with its decision to field Sangma as the Presidential candidate. “Mamata is a seasoned and mature politician and given the logical pursuit of what she has started we hope she will support Sangma”, he says. Jaitley adds that they are trying to bring everyone on board to support the former NCP leader but quips that “such methods cannot be revealed at Press Conferences”.
12.25pm: Responding to a question by reporters on the impact of the BJP decision to field Sangma as the NDA candidate, Jaitley says that the alliance that form the NDA was a mature one and could weather a difference of opinion. “Differences over candidate will not affect the NDA. We hope our allies will support us but if not it will not separate us”, he said. In terms of finding a suitable opponent for Pranab he said, “We are happy that there were two suitable candidates emerged and we chose one of them”.
Sushma Swaraj gets asked the inevitable question of how the BJP is dealing with the Modi – Nitish spat. She says the war of words is “an irrelevant and unfortunate debate.”
12.20pm: Elaborating further on the NDA decision to field PA Sangma as its candidate, BJP leader Arun Jaitley said that there was absolutely no element of consensus in the UPA decision to field Pranab Mukherjee as the UPA candidate for President, saying “They merely took a decision and expected the rest of us to fall in line”. Speaking further Jaitley said, “We want to maintain our role as opposition to the UPA which has used underhand measures to try and build a consensus.”
12.11pm: Swaraj says that despite the inability for the NDA to reach consensus on a candidate, the BJP had definitely decided to field a candidate, and said that they had decided to back Sangma as the NDA candidate. “There has always been a contest in the presidential poll. We have decided to contest and not give Pranab a clear path”, said Sushma Swaraj. Praising Sangma’s candidature Swaraj added, “We are unified in announcing PA Sangma as our candidate for the presidential poll. He’s the biggest leader in the North-East”.
12.07pm: BJP leader Sushma Swaraj addressing the media, says that despite two meetings and much deliberations over the Presidential candidate, the NDA has been unable to reach a consensus. Saying that the JD(U) and Shiv Sena wanted a consensus candidate, Swaraj said, “Our allies should have consulted us before declaring their candidate.” Swaraj added that the NDA had two candidates: Kalam suggested by Mamata and Sangma suggested by Patnaik and Jayalalitha.
12.00pm: The BJP is set to announce the NDA Presidential candidate. Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad are at the head table.
10.47am: A number of party members from the Left are meeting in Delhi to decide who to support in the upcoming Presidential poll. Political analysts say that there is a definite ‘Bengal’ faction within the five Left parties that is in favor of supporting Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature as they feel that this would help with further isolating Mamata Banerjee. There is however another faction that is reportedly in favor of backing a Dalit woman for the post. Times Now reporters quoting sources, are saying that the pro-Pranab faction is being more vocal in the meeting so far, but there are still a few hours to go before the politburo meeting ends.
If there is failure to build consensus however, it is also very likely that the Left may decide to abstain from voting in the poll. A move to this effect is also more likely to benefit Pranab who at the moment seems to have more numbers in his favor than likely NDA candidate PA Sangma.
10.20 am: Support for PA Sangma among the NDA allies continues to grow as they seem to be keen to make a contest of the presidential poll which has been otherwise been a one candidate race so far.
CNN IBN reports that the Shiromani Akali Dal has said they will back Sangma for the post of President. And Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) is also likely to back the former Lok Sabha speaker, the channel says. The onus now seems to be entirely on the BJP and whether they will they bend to the will of their allies. Or were they just waiting for a consensus among their allies to make their choice public?
10.05am AIADMK leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has said that her support for Sangma remains unchanged, adding that she would be happy if the NDA decide to back him for the Presidential poll as well. Speaking to reporters in Chennai, Jayalalithaa said, “I announced the AIADMK’s support to Sangma more than a month ago. And after that there has been no change in our party’s stand. As for other parties support for Sangma is concerned, let them make the announcement first. I will be happy if they do so.”
Responding to a question whether she would enlist TMC leader Mamata Banerjee to support Sangma, Jayalalithaa said, “Mamata Banerjee has already spoken to me. She sought my support for Kalam. At that time I told her I had already extended my support to Sangma. Let us see what Mamata-ji does”
9.45am: With PA Sangma resigning from his position within the National Congress Party, speculation is rife that he will be projected as the BJP candidate for the Presidential election. The NDA is scheduled to meet later this afternoon and the latest media reports are speculating that a Presidential candidate will be announced by noon. The NDA has yet to come to an agreement on who to support, after its own ‘consensus candidate’ APJ Abdul Kalam said he was not interested in contesting.
Sangma is supported by Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK and Patnaik’s BJD, and could be supported by the BJP as well. Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) has hinted that they will not support Sangma and prefer to back Pranab, while the Shiv Sena has categorically stated its support for the Finance Minister.