New Delhi: With former President APJ Abdul Kalam virtually out of the presidential contest 2012 and former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma quitting his party, NCP, to remain in the race, the battle now seems to be fought between the UPA heavyweight and Congress troubleshooter Pranab Mukherjee and the former Lok Sabha Speaker.

The political equations so far suggest Pranab Da, the Congress’ man of all seasons, as the frontrunner for the country’s top most post. 

The probabilities of Pranab becoming India’s first citizen is more evident as the major allies of the NDA too are garnering open support to the Congress man, terming him the most suitable candidate for the President post.

NDA split, but BJP backs Sangma

On the other side, several sections of NDA are divided over the names of Sangma and Pranab for the poll race. While Shiv Sena and BJP leaders Maneka Gandhi and BS Yeddyurappa have openly supported the UPA nominee, major ally JD(U) is too insisting upon building consensus on Pranab.  Meanwhile, other NDA allies like BJP, Janata Party and SAD are backing Sangma.

Extending support to Sangma for the presidential poll, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj has said, “BJP, as main Opposition, does not want to give a walkover to Congress because there was no prior consultation by UPA with us”.

Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK too is backing Sangma as their presidential candidate.

Left’s stoic silence

Meanwhile, the other major Opposition ‘Left’, which is set to take a final call on its presidential candidate on Thursday, appears to support Pranab for the poll race. However, the Left parties have maintained a suspense on the issue of support to the UPA nominee, saying they were not bound to back the ruling coalition's candidate, but the widening rift between the Trinamool Congress and the UPA, may become an excellent opportunity for the Left to re-occupy the space close to the ruling dispensation. 

On Wednesday, Pranab has called up CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat seeking support for his candidature, however, the latter was non-committal.

"We are not bound, we are not part of the alliance of Congress and UPA that we have to support anybody they propose," CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat has said.

Interestingly, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Mulayam’s Samajwadi Party (SP) has also supported Pranab’s candidature for the prestigious post.

Civil society backs Pranab

Apart from the political corridors, the civil society too appears considering Pranab as the better option over others for the President post. Recently, while the two Team Anna members -- Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal -- had targetted the UPA Presidential nominee, anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare appeared to endorse his candidature for the top post terming him as "better than other UPA ministers".

"Mukherjee is an efficient minister. He has played an important role in several key decisions. He has been fielded by UPA. Had it been any other minister, I would not have approved," Hazare has said.

Number Game

With support of SP and BSP, the UPA candidate is in a position to garner nearly half of the total vote value of 10,98,882. On its own, UPA has a vote value of 4.12 lakh after deducting TMC's 48,049.

But the addition of 1.12 lakh vote value of SP (68,812) and BSP (43,349) will take the vote value of UPA to 5.24 lakh. This leaves the ruling alliance with a slight deficit of 25,000 vote value, assuming all other parties are ranged against the UPA candidate.

The BJP-led NDA has a vote value of 3.04 lakh while the Left parties account for around 51,000 vote value in the electoral college of 10.98 lakh vote value.

Sonakshi Kishore/JPN

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