New Delhi: The race for Presidential election hotted up on Monday with BJP ruling out support for any Congress candidate including Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari raising the possibility of a contest in the absence of a consensus.

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On its part, the Congress continued to keep its cards close to the chest.

In its first public declaration, BJP leader and Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj also ruled out any quid pro quo with Congress on the Presidential election by accepting the Vice President's post.

On his part Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, whose name along with Ansari has been doing the rounds, parried questions on his candidature saying it is speculation and asked the media not to indulge in it.

Congress-led UPA with 42 percent votes and BJP-led NDA with 28 per cent votes can get a candidate agreeable to them elected without support from other parties who are in neither formations.

Lending a new turn to the race more than two months before the elections, Swaraj declared that "we will not accept any candidate including Pranab Mukherjee."

"Ansari does not have the stature to be President and hence BJP will not support him," she said.

"We are looking at the 2014 elections and do not want to give the impression that we have any truck with the Congress," Swaraj said.

She said BJP was gauging the mood of the UPA allies on the Presidential elections. On whether a non-Congress candidate like A P J Abdul Kalam could be the President, Swaraj said BJP is open to the
idea.

"We can have an understanding with non-Congress parties where we support their Presidential candidate and they support our Vice Presidential candidate," she said.

"We will contest to win. We will work out arithmetic," she said. However, Swaraj did not reveal whom the BJP-led NDA will field for the post of President and Vice-President in case of a contest.

NDA sources have maintained that Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal can be their candidate.

However, since the NDA does not have the numbers to get its President in Rashtrapati Bhawan, the alliance is looking at possibilities of winning the Vice Presidential election. Badal is reportedly in agreement with this proposal, sources said.

DMK President M Karunanidhi, with whom Defence Minister A K Antony had held consultations on Sunday, said some names were discussed during his talks with Antony on the candidate for the Presidential election, but declined to divulge details.

"We expect a good President. Antony proposed (some names) and so did I. But we cannot tell you the details," he told reporters in Chennai a day after the senior Congress leader met him here and held hour-long talks.

As reports suggested that he is one of the candidates for the Presidential post, Mukherjee was mobbed by reporters on Monday with questions on the possibility.

"Oh my goodness...oh my goodness..," a smiling Mukherjee told reporters outside Parliament House when asked about his being projected as consensus choice for President's post.

"Don't indulge in any speculation," he said when pressed again to get his version.

Congress also sought to distance itself from the speculation over the names of possible Presidential candidates, saying the formal process to choose the next President is yet to take off.

"The President of India is an extremely august office. This is not an office which should be brought into the realm of unnecessary speculation. While it is true that the term of the current President will be ending in July it is also a fact that formally the process to choose the next President has not kicked off," Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters outside Parliament.

Meanwhile, NCP member and Union Minister Agatha Sangma suggested that Mukherjee should remain in Finance Ministry and
pitched for her father and senior leader P A Sangma saying a tribal and a Christian have never been President.

"Sangma, not as my father...but according to me he is very an able Parliamentarian. Whatever role he has been given, he has played it very well. So according to me, he is very able person and politician.

"The community he represents has never been represented as President--be it a tribal or christian communities," Agatha Sangma, who is the Minister of State for Rural Development, told reporters outside Parliament House.

(Agencies)