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BJP discusses Sangma, says aims bigger than presidential poll

New Delhi, June 16 - The Bharatiya Janata Party's nearly three-hour-long meeting on presidential polls ended inconclusively with leaders discussing the possibility of Backing P.A. Sangma but the party said its aiming beyond these elections and looking to expand its alliance.

Sangma's name was brought forward by L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj, sources said. The leaders also talked to Sangma on phone.

The party is however treading cautiously in order to have all its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) allies on board before foraying in the battle.

The former Lok Sabha speaker's name was pitched by AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa and Biju Janata Dal chief Naveen Patnaik. The BJP is considering backing Sangma as it weighs the possibilities of striking an alliance with these two parties later.

BJP is also considering approaching Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and YSR Congress founder Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy. While Banerjee is a United Progressive Alliance ally miffed with the Congress, Reddy, the son of late Andhra chief minister Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy, left the Congress protesting his family's humiliation by the leadership and floated his own party.

On the other hand, key National Democratic Alliance allies -- the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) -- are not in favour of pitching a candidate against UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee.

SAD leader Naresh Gujral also met JD-U chief Sharad Yadav this morning.

A BJP leader told IANS that a section of leaders within BJP were also of view that a candidate should not be fielded against Mukherjee, as he is a veteran leader. He however did not name those leaders.

Another section of leaders meanwhile feels that if they don't field a candidate in this election, it may give signals of the opposition being weak, at a time when they have presented themselves as an alternate to Congress-led government.

The leader adds that the second section may emerge stronger as they are eying the 2014 general elections.

Another BJP leader appeared confident of differences being patched in Sunday's NDA meeting.

"(JD-U leader Shivanand) Tiwari ji's views were his own. But ultimately, its the benefit of the alliance which will be kept in mind, and I am sure the allies will come on our side," said the leader, who was not willing to be be named.

Speaking to reporters in Patna, Tiwari said that a senior and respected leader like Pranab Mukherjee, who is going to retire (from active politics), should be given a graceful sendoff, but hastened to add that this was his personal view.

"BJP has to emerge as a larger alternate. When we and all our allies speak in one voice, and we have more parties on our side, a positive message will go out," the BJP leader said.

However, SAD and JD-U, as per sources in the two parties, are likely to bat for not fielding a candidate against Mukherjee.


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