Bhubaneswar: Injecting a new element in the Presidential race, BJD and AIADMK appeared to be coming together to sponsor NCP leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma as a candidate in the coming Presidential election.

Odisha Chief Minister and ruling BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik on Thursday gave his party's backing to the 65-year-old tribal leader from the north eastern state of Meghalaya.

"I think Mr Sangma ought to be candidate for the highest post for the Rastrapati Bhavan," he told reporters here.

Describing Sangma as a prominent tribal leader who had the experience of occupying the post of Lok Sabha Speaker, Patnaik said that he has already spoken to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK president J Jayalalithaa on the matter.

He had visited Chennai last week and met Jayalalitha after their parleys last month in Delhi.  The two leaders have common views on issues of federalism like the NCTC.

The BJD leader, who said he had received a letter from the NCP leader on Wednesday, added he had consultations with senior leaders of the BJD before coming out with the backing for Sangma.

Interestingly, Sangma's own party has not taken any decision on what it proposes to do in the election.  NCP supremo Sharad Pawar had already met Congress President Sonia Gandhi and held discussions on the issue.

The Chief Minister's remarks came as a surprise against the backdrop of speculation that the party might back a candidate like former Governor Gopalakrishna Gandhi.  Gandhi had recently met Patnaik.

He said since tribals comprise a quarter of the state’s total population it would be befitting to support a tribal candidate like Sangma.

Earlier, Union Minister of State for Rural Development, Agatha Sangma, who is Sangma's daughter, had met Patnaik here. During the week the father-daughter combine had called on Jayalalitha and sought her support for Sangma.

(Agencies)

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