New Delhi: With Shiv Sena breaking ranks by expressing support to Pranab Mukherjee, BJP will have a tough task to ensure that NDA contests the presidential election and a view in this regard is to be taken at a meeting of the coalition expected to be held on Tuesday.

Shiv Sena has complicated matters for the party by pledging support to Mukherjee.

JD (U) too has reportedly stuck to its stand that there should be a consensus on Mukherjee.

The rift between JD (U) and BJP over the presidential poll appeared to grow deeper with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar saying the NDA Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections should have "secular credentials" and that the coalition should declare its candidate in advance.

Though Kumar did not take any name, he was apparently referring to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The murmurs of protest within BJP against going for a contest appear to be growing louder. Sources said sulking former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has joined those who want a consensus on Mukherjee.

"While Mukherjee is a UPA candidate, P A Sangma belongs to NCP which is a constituent of UPA. If NDA has to support one of them, Mukherjee is a better choice as he has the stature and better credentials," a close associate of Yeddyurappa said, quoting the BJP leader.

BJP leaders Maneka Gandhi, Shatrughan Sinha and C P Thakur have already said Mukherjee should be president.

BJP President Nitin Gadkari may not be able to take part in the NDA meeting as he left for Nagpur on Tuesday in view of his son's wedding on June 24. He, along with L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj, is among the BJP leaders who are keen on a contest.

With A P J Abdul Kalam opting out of the race, BJP and other like-minded parties are likely to support P A Sangma as their candidate.

In doing so, BJP expects to win new allies like AIADMK and BJD. Some BJP leaders are hopeful Trinamool Congress may also support the NDA candidate as Kalam, who was being propped up by Mamata Banerjee, is no longer a candidate.

BJP leaders were silent on Shiv Sena's decision to support Mukherjee. They only argued the alliance between them is intact as Shiv Sena had earlier supported Pratibha Patil in 2007 for the top post but continues to be part of NDA.

However, relations between BJP and JD (U) are not the most cordial at present. The two have differed on some crucial issues. BJP was hopeful of bringing JD (U) on board on the presidential election.

(Agencies)

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