Signs of wider support to Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential race were visible today with JD(U) leader Shivanand Tiwari making a strong pitch for a "graceful send off to the respected leader."
Tiwari said it was his personal opinion that "a senior and respected leader like Pranab Mukherjee, who is going into retire (from active politics) should be given a graceful send off".
He said it was clear that Mukherjee will win the Presidential race with Mulayam and Mayawati backing his candidature as UPA candidate. He, however, said that a decision needed to be taken at the meeting of the NDA where "we will put forward our view points". JD(U) is the second largest partner in the NDA and the party and BJP are sharing power in Bihar.
Finance Minister Mukherjee was yesterday chosen by the ruling UPA as its candidate for the President's post, ending months of speculation.
Yesterday, JD(U) had virtually put its foot down on the issue of NDA taking any stand on Abdul Kalam, projected as Presidential candidate by TMC, following which the opposition alliance deferred its decision.
Badal's name as a probable Vice Presidential candidate had done the rounds a few months back, when talks about the Presidential race had begun.
Gujral, however, asked "why will anyone take Badal's name from NDA for Vice President's post . This decision (about candidature of Vice President) has to be taken by the UPA".
On the issue of NDA supporting any candidate against Mukherjee in the Presidential race, Gujral said Akali Dal has always been a very "disciplined member of NDA" and will go by whatever decision is taken by the alliance.
Asked what was discussed in the meeting with the JD-U chief, Gujral said, "The political situation from now up to 2014."
Sources in NDA allies said that much will depend on how Biju Janta Dal and AIADMK, which have backed P A Sangma's candidature, respond to the situation.
"Both NDA and UPA are wooing these two parties. If they continue supporting Sangma, there could be a contest otherwise no contest. You see Kalam is not going to agree to contest unless he is cent percent sure of winning the seat," a senior leader from the alliance said.
The leader said though TMC is so far firm on backing Kalam's candidature, what stand Mamata Banerjee will take if Kalam backs out remains to be seen as Congress has still not lost hope of getting back her support and its leaders are issuing appeals to her to back Mukherjee. The leader also indicated that JD-U is soft towards Mukherjee but the party won't take the extreme step of opposing NDA's decision if the majority view is for contest.
Senior JD-U leader Shivanand Tiwari said it was his personal opinion that "a senior and respected leader like Pranab Mukherjee, who is going into retire (from active politics) should be given a graceful send off".
He said it was clear that Mukherjee will win the Presidential race with Mulayam and Mayawati backing his candidature as UPA candidate.