CPM to back Pranab, CPI to abstain
The NDA has decided to back Sangma even as the JD(U) and the Shiv Sena decided to vote for Pranab.
New Delhi: 5:09 pm: Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) will vote for UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee while Communist Party of India (CPI) will abstain. Out of four Left parties two have decided to support Pranab and two others will abstain.
"This is the only issue where we have differences. On every other issue the Left Front is united. The RSP will also abstain from voting," said veteran CPI leader AB Bardhan said. The Forward Bloc has also decided to vote in favour Mukherjee.
3:00 pm The Left Front was divided over the Presidential candidate and was struggling to reach consensus. While the West Bengal unit of the Left was in favour of Pranab Mukherjee as the Presidential candidate, the Kerala unit was against him. A final announcement is expected in the evening after a meeting of all the Left parties.
1:00 pm: NDA ally JD(U) announced its support for UPA's Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee. JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav said, "Our support to Pranab is due to the present scenario, this is not a support to the UPA."
He said that since APJ Abdul Kalam withdrew from the race, the situation had changed and the NDA failed to arrive at a consensus.
12:40: Former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma has thanked the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiromani Akali Dal for their support to him in the Presidential poll. He also said he was hopeful of winning the election.
When asked Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee would support him, Sangma said he had spoken to Mamata and was hopeful of getting her support. The Trinamool Congress sources, however, said they were still undecided on whether or not to support Sangma.
Sangma also said that since the voting for the Presidential poll takes place through secret ballot, he was hopeful that the conscience of the voters would be in his favour.
12:10 pm: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has nominated former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma for the President's post. BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said that the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP supported Sangma's candidature.
However, the NDA failed to arrive at a consensus with two of its key partners, the Shiv Sena and JD(U) not in favour of a contest. However, Sushma Swaraj said the BJP was in favour of a contest.
"Considering what Pranab has done to the country, there cannot be walkover for him," Sushma Swaraj said.
Sushma Swaraj also said that the UPA failed to reach out to the NDA over the Presidential poll.
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley also said that the BJP wanted to play the role of a principal opposition and was not in favour of the UPA's Presidential candidate. "Contest is an idea integral to the democracy, not alien to the democracy. We want to play the role of the principal opposition party," Jaitley said.
Dismissing reports of differences within the NDA, Sushma Swaraj said, "NDA is a mature alliance, there is no question of it breaking down. We were trying to bring our alliance partners on board, we could not do that."
The BJP's announcement came even as two of its leaders Maneka Gandhi and BS Yeddyurappa had expressed their desire to support Pranab. "The support of Maneka, Yeddyurappa for Pranab does not matter now since we have made the official announcement," Sushma Swaraj said.
Meanwhile, the JDS also said it would support Pranab's candidature for the President's post. The Left Front's meeting on the Presidential poll was underway. Sources say that the Left parties were still divided and are likely to announce their decision by Thursday evening.
The JD(U) is expected to announce its stand on the Presidential candidate at 1 pm on Thursday.
Race for Rashtrapati Bhawan: Where the numbers stand
Support for Pranab
UPA (-TMC) + RJD + SP + BSP + NDA ALLIES (SS + JDU) = 53.2 per cent
Support for Sangma
BJP + SAD + BJD + AIADMK = 27.6 per cent
Left + TMC = 9 per cent
Others = 10.2 per cent