President poll: NDA and Left split, Pranab through
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With the votes stacked in his favour after the NDA and Left split — JD(U) and Shiv Sena broke ranks with the BJP while the CPM and Forward Bloc disagreed with other Left partners — to support him, Pranab Mukherjee appears set to become the 13th President of India next month.
Left with little choice, the BJP was today forced to formally back former speaker P A Sangma so that the UPA did not get a "walkover" in the presidential election.
Mukherjee, who continued his campaign to contact leaders from the non-Congress non-BJP spectrum by reaching out to JMM leader Shibu Soren and Puducherry Chief Minister N Rangasamy, now has a vote value of at least 6.29 lakh out of the total 10.98 lakh vote value. This is way more than the vote value needed for a win.
With the BJP's backing, Sangma can expect up to 3.10 lakh votes in his favour. But it will be significantly short of the halfway mark of 5.49 lakh votes. Besides the BJP, the only substantial votes that he can expect are those from the AIADMK and BJD, which had initially proposed his candidature, and the Akali Dal.
JD(U) president Sharad Yadav announced support for Mukherjee this afternoon, soon after the BJP said it had decided to back Sangma. Earlier this week, the Shiv Sena made it clear that it would back Mukherjee.
Left parties too failed to agree on a common stand at a meeting this evening, resulting in the CPM and Forward Bloc deciding to back Mukherjee, and the CPI and RSP opting for abstention.
As the day progressed, it was evident that the UPA had managed to find new friends in support of Mukherjee's candidature while the opposition could barely hold on to even its allies.
The BJP announcement by its senior leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley made it clear that the main opposition was left holding a losing hand, even as it bravely sought to project the contest for the presidential stakes as a healthy sign of democracy.
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