New Delhi: Differences surfaced in the NDA camp over President's election with JD (U) disapproving BJP's unilateral decision on the issue as Left parties and RJD backed Vice President Hamid Ansari for the post.

Samajwadi Party, which is outside the UPA and NDA formations, on Tuesday sought to inject a new element in the race saying the party would favour an eminent Muslim candidate including the name of Ansari.

Stunned by JD(U)'s sharp reaction, the BJP sought to do some damage control explaining that Sushma Swaraj's announcement on Monday that her party will not back any Congress candidate including Pranab  Mukherjee and Ansari  was made from the BJP platform and not NDA.

Embarrasing BJP JD (U) leader and NDA conveneor Sharad Yadav said, “Whatever Sushma Swaraj has said is the opinion of the BJP. This is not our party's view. The issue was not discussed in any NDA meeting. BJP has not discussed the issue with us."

He also said that the country is in a bad shape and "everybody needs to be on the side of caution on this issue".

Asked whether JD-U agrees with the stand of Swaraj, Yadav merely said, "Ours is a different party and theirs is another. Neither have we discussed this issue with the BJP nor have they done it with us so far."

Yadav also referred to the statement of SAD leader Sukhbir Singh Badal to hammer home his point that the issue has not been decided by NDA as yet.

Badal said that there has been "no formal meeting" of the alliance so far and hence he cannot comment that who will be NDA's Presidential candidate.

Yadav said the NDA has not discussed the issue of Presidential candidate and whether to support or to put up the name of former President Abdul Kalam as the alliance candidate this time, thereby indicating that Swaraj's view on the subject is merely that of BJP.

The BJP on Tuesday fielded two of its spokespersons to field questions from the media on the differences within NDA over Swaraj's remarks.

Senior leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said what Swaraj said on Monday was said from the BJP platform and not NDA, implying that it was only the views of the BJP and was not claimed to be that of NDA.

He also said Yadav was only replying to questions by media. "There is no rift whatsoever between BJP and JD (U. It (rift) is mere speculation and interpretation which is uncalled for", he said there has been no discussion within NDA on the issue.

Shah Nawaz Hussain, another BJP MP who was with Swaraj when she talked to reporters on Monday, said that the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha had made the point that there would be no deal with Congress on the Presidential election.

"Whatever we do, we will do it along with the Opposition.  First discussion in BJP, then in NDA and with the larger Opposition," he quoted Swaraj as saying.

Hussain said replying to a question Swaraj had said that people of the stature of Kalam, who was earlier proposed by Mulayam Singh Yadav, would have BJP's backing.

He also claimed that Swaraj made no reference to Ansari's political stature and that everything now was premature.

Left stand on Prez polls

The Left parties meanwhile said they were holding informal discussions with some others and favoured evolving a consensus on the name of a Presidential nominee, CPI (M) General Secretary Prakash Karat told reporters here on Tuesday.

"We have not thought of any individual names. We are talking to some of the parties and we hope that there can be a common understanding emerging on who should be the Presidential candidate," he said.
But sources in the Left parties, which have been advocating "maximum consensus", indicated that they may not be averse to supporting a candidate like Vice President Hamid Ansari if Congress comes up with his name.

They are also of the view that the Congress party may not field Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee because of his utility for the government. But they have no reservations over his name.

The Left leaders, who would be meeting among themselves on Friday, are clear that they would not support former President A P J Abdul Kalam whom they had opposed earlier too.

CPI National Secretary D Raja said the four parties would meet on May four and hold "preliminary consultations" on the matter. "This will be the first occasion when we meet to discuss this issue," he said.

The Left parties continue to oppose Kalam as his name has been mooted by the BJP. The parties had put up a leading light of Subhash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army, Capt Lakshmi Sehgal, against Kalam during the 2002 Presidential poll.

In fact, Ansari was the choice of Left parties before he was elected as Vice President during UPA-I when the government was dependent on their outside support.

In Patna, RJD leader Lalu Prasad said that his party would support Ansari, whom he described as "good personality and appropriate" for the President's post.

Kamal Farooqui, leader of the Samajwadi Party, said his party would pitch for a "competent" Muslim candidate as it has a good following in the community and wants to do something for it.

He floated the names of Ansari, former Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Rehman Khan and Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi for the post.  He said his party had earlier backed Kalam when he was made the President but now the Congress seemed to be having reservations.