NEW DELHI: Keen to dispel the notion of a chasm between his party and BJP, JD-U, which has backed UPA’s Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee, today supported BJP’s bid for contest in the Vice Presidential election.
Describing his party’s support to Mukherjee as an “exception”, JD-U President Sharad Yadav said, “Whatever BJP leader L K Advani has said (on Vice Presidential election) is right. It’s a unanimous decision to field Jaswant Singh as NDA’s Vice Presidential nominee.”
Asked whether the Vice Presidential election has united NDA, Yadav, who is also the convener of the opposition alliance said, “NDA was united earlier also. An exception had happened for Presidential election. We backed Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature because he understands the country.
That does not mean we are with Congress.”
Sources said that in the NDA meeting while BJP cited Ansari’s conduct during discussion on Lokpal Bill in Winter Session as one of the reasons for its reservations against his candidature, Yadav chose to point that Ansari had called in marshals to evict MPs protesting against the Women Reservation Bill in 2010.
Yadav said he did not approve Ansari’s conduct in the Upper House then.
The sources said that Yadav, who declined to accept the offer to become NDA’s Vice Presidential candidate, also suggested the name of BJP leader Najma Heptullah, saying that she was the alliance’s Vice Presidential nominee last time and that her candidature could be repeated.
However, the BJP leaders told him that she has herself declined to be a candidate in the Vice Presidential race.
There is a view in JD-U that even though Ansari will have a smooth sail in the Vice Presidential election as the UPA has the required numbers, there was need to clear the misgivings of any rift in NDA and that JD-U has no intention of deserting the Opposition alliance.
An impression had gained ground that JD-U was moving closer to Congress when it backed Mukherjee’s candidature. A war of words had also broken out between leaders of BJP and JD-U over Narendra Modi at that time. Yadav insisted that the absence of any member from his party and Shiv Sena and also from any of the Left parties on June 28 when Pranab Mukherjee filed nomination, was a clear indicator that there is “no divide either in NDA or Left”.
“On the contrary there is some problem in UPA. Their ally Trinamool Congress is yet to commit support either for their Presidential nominee or the candidate for Vice President’s post,” he said.
As the NDA meeting began, BJP leaders Sushama Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut and Akali Dal leader Naresh Gujaral urged Yadav to be the NDA candidate as it was felt that his candidature could change the situation altogether in favor of the Opposition.
Addressing the press later, Advani also said that it was felt that if Yadav agreed to contest, an altogether different kind of situation could emerge.
The JD-U chief said that there was “total unanimity” on Jaswant Singh’s name at the meeting. He said that efforts will be made to ensure that the contest is effective.
“All those parties outside UPA will be contacted. We will talk to everyone. We will take efforts so that an effective contest takes place,” Yadav said.
He, however, parried a question on the issue of Left backing Ansari’s candidature. “Different parties have different perceptions. What can I say about their statements,” he said.
JD-U sources had earlier too indicated that Yadav was not interested in the Vice President’s post.
Yadav said, “There were no two opinions in the JD-U on it (NDA contesting Ansari’s candidature)”. -PTI